Saving Madagascar’s Song Lemurs

Indri lemurs are attractive herbivorous creatures that make their way through the forest canopy to their home in Madagascar in small family groups. They are the only lemurs that make loud, high-pitched sounds when calling to each other, earning them the title “singing lemurs”.

The melodic sequences of arboreal mammals can last up to three minutes and “resonate with rhythmic strokes, duets and harmonized choruses, a skill that only another primate has mastered: humans”, explains Friends of the Earth International, a group conservation based in North America in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

However, like all other lemur species on the island, the indri lemurs are critically endangered: they are losing their habitat due to habitat loss and other environmental stresses on their home in the rainforest. Dragon Tree of Maromizaha, a protected area.

Some 200 indris, called “Babakoto” by locals, reside in this primary forest and another 1,000 live in the surrounding forests, according to conservationists.

“Deep in the forests of Madagascar lives the indri, one of the largest living lemurs, famous for its songs and roars which it uses to communicate.

Sadly, this fascinating animal is one of the most endangered lemurs in the world and faces the risk of extinction due to the continued destruction of its habitat,” says Friends of the Earth.

“[L]he greatest threat pushing the Indri towards extinction is the loss of their natural habitat due to deforestation. The degradation of the Maromizaha forest has been mainly caused by the practice of slash and burn agriculture to convert the forest to agricultural land, selective logging and mining,” explains the conservation group.


How to save lemurs

Another threat to the animals comes from local Malagasy people who no longer respect a traditional taboo against killing lemurs.

Friends of the Earth, together with teams of foreign and local scientists, seek to save the animals from further harm by keeping a dozen groups of indris under constant observation.

“Four local guides are responsible for studying their behavior and movements. Monitoring is carried out both by focal observations and by the use of special acoustic recorders located at strategic locations, which are moved every three weeks,” explains the non-profit association.

A habitat restoration project is also underway through various nurseries of bamboo and other native plants with the aim of ensuring that the Indris continue to have ample roaming grounds in their native forests.

At the same time, educational projects for local people seek to involve them in conservation projects, while community projects aim to raise their standard of living.

Through these initiatives, it is hoped that Madagascar’s famous singing lemurs will be able to continue singing in the local forests for generations to come.

By Sustainability Times. Articles in English

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