Although over 90% of Madagascar’s wildlife is found nowhere else on the planet, lemurs are without a doubt the most iconic species here. How important are lemurs to the ecosystems of Madagascar?
Lemurs are very important to the ecosystems of Madagascar. Lemurs provide benefits to the forest by acting as one of the most important seed dispersers. Seed dispersal by primates is important for many fruiting trees in the tropics, including Madagascar. Some lemurs also consume flowers which allow them to act as pollinators. Although this isn’t as pleasant, they are also a prey species for many animals including raptors, snakes, and the fossa.
A study in 2014 found that 90% of lemur species are endangered, primarily due to habitat loss; however, the people of Madagascar are also in need of aid, with around 70% of the population living below the poverty line. What can be done to help both lemurs and humans flourish together in sustainable forest communities?
The situation is even worse now. 95% of lemurs are now threatened with extinction, and yes, many people live on less than $2 USD per day. For lemur conservation to work, communities must be consulted and be a part of short-, medium-, and long-term projects. Food, health, and economic security are major issues facing rural communities in Madagascar. For conservation work to be successful, projects must find ways to conserve and restore forest while improving people’s livelihoods. For example, we have helped create a sustainable agroforestry program that we hope will expand to create surplus food for the communities we work with while also providing habitat for lemurs.