Population boost for rare greater bamboo lemurs

By Ruth Hendry - 01 Mar 2011 23:35:0 GMT
Population boost for rare greater bamboo lemurs

Greater bamboo lemurs are found only on the island of Madagascar. With less than 200 individuals left in the wild, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists these species as critically endangered.

Like many of Madagascar's unique species, the greater bamboo lemur is under increasing pressure. Rainforests in Madagascar are being cleared by indiscriminate slash-and-burn techniques to make way for farmland. As greater bamboo lemurs rely predominantly on the giant bamboo trees found in these rainforests, they are especially vulnerable to destruction of this iconic habitat.

In addition, greater bamboo lemurs are hunted for food, despite the protection afforded to them by the Madagascan government. Until recently, the range of greater bamboo lemurs was thought to be extremely restricted.

A cause for optimism

Now, researchers have discovered that greater bamboo lemurs are found over a twice the range than previously realised. Scientists from a coalition of diverse conservation charities found evidence of the greater bamboo lemur at 18 new sites.

Working closely with communities, and relying heavily on the knowledge of local people, researchers saw 65 individuals, which is fantastic news. Happily, these individuals were spotted in the Ankeniheny-Zahamena Corridor, a protected area of Madagascar’s remaining rainforest which is rich in wildlife.

However, despite the government’s protection, species in the Ankeniheny-Zahamena Corridor are still facing numerous threats including hunting pressure and habitat destruction. Nonetheless, finding these greater bamboo lemurs in a protected area is a positive result and demonstrates the value for conservation charities and researchers in working with local communities.

Now, Conservation International, the Aspinall Foundation, GERP - a Madagascan primate study group - and the conservation charity Association Mitsinjo are working with local people to protect Madagascar's iconic lemurs in the bamboo rainforest. Fingers crossed this will bring more good news for Madagascar's iconic wildlife.