If you have ever been curious about Madagascar’s lemurs, you’re not alone. There’s now an emergency unit set up to protect the lemurs and other endangered species of Madagascar. In addition to increased protection for lemurs, new research has revealed that certain species of the animal share a genetic similarity to humans and could be susceptible to the disease SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. However, these findings haven’t been confirmed in lemurs, but the possibility still worries researchers.
The most well-known resident of Madagascar is the ring-tailed lemur. Its fur is gray and has white spots on its belly. It also has a black muzzle and a long black-and-white tail. Unlike other lemurs, the ring-tailed lemur spends most of its time on the ground, spending most of the day sunbathing in the early morning. This lemur breeds in groups of five to 30 members, which are dominated by a dominant female.
Another surprising fact about the Madagascar lemur’s diet is that it is unusually leafy for a primate’s diet. Researchers speculate that this was a result of food scarcity. The frequent cyclones that afflict Madagascar lemurs may have reduced fruit production. The low protein content of fruit may have impacted their diet. However, most lemurs are vegetarians and depend on fruit and nuts as their primary sources of nutrition.
The COVID-19 crisis has taken a heavy toll on the Malagasy people, their ecotourism efforts, and the communities that depend on the Madagascar lemur population. Another important reason is the declining population of the North Atlantic right whale, a critically endangered species. In addition to their habitat, ships and fishing gear are responsible for the declining numbers of these animals. Climate change is also making matters worse for these cetaceans.
Unfortunately, this environmental degradation has left the island with a very low population of Madagascar’s famous lemurs. Despite these numbers, the island is becoming a top spot for studying extinction. Last year, the island lost the highest percentage of its primary forest on Earth. Currently, 95 percent of the lemur species are endangered. A recent study revealed that despite the current population decline, Madagascar is still one of the world’s most threatened habitats, and this situation threatens their survival.
Whether or not the lemurs survive will depend on the local communities and civil society of Madagascar. Research is the foundation for conservation efforts, and an increasing focus on ecotourism has been successful in attracting more tourists to Madagascar to see the lemurs. The result is that ecotourism may become Madagascar’s top foreign exchange earner in the near future. Its thriving tourism industry can help the lemurs thrive in Madagascar.