Species name: aye-aye
Nominated by: Rainforest Trust UK
IUCN Red List classification: Endangered
What is so special about your species?
The aye-aye is one of a kind, a unique creature spectacularly evolved to thrive in the rainforests of Madagascar. It may not be the cutest lemur in the canopy – it looks like a cross between a giant vampire bat and Golum from Lord of the Rings – but what the aye-aye lacks in looks it makes up for in specialisation. The largest nocturnal primate in the world, the aye-aye finds its food by tapping on trees with its extraordinarily long middle finger and listening for insect larvae moving under the bark. It then gnaws a hole in the wood with its vampire-like incisors and uses the same middle finger to hook them out. Not the most romantic Valentine date, we admit, but it’s the only primate to use echolocation to find its dinner. They also mate upside down, hanging from a tree branch for up to an hour. Which isn’t easy, especially when you have a stomach full of insect larvae.
What are the threats to this species in the wild?
Aye-ayes have long been considered omens of bad luck by the Malagasy people due to their vampiric appearance, and some locals even think that if they point their long middle finger at you, you are marked for death. For this reason aye-ayes are often killed on sight and hung up at the edge of the village so that the evil spirit will be carried away by travellers. Add to this the widespread habitat loss and intensive farming that have destroyed much of their habitat across Madagascar, it’s clear that the aye-aye is only hanging on by its freakishly long fingertips and deserves your love this Valentine’s Day.
What can people do to help your species?
Rainforest Trust are working with our local Conservation Partners to conserve a number of crucial areas of rainforest for threatened endemic wildlife across Madagascar, including the newly discovered Lost Forest, a spectacular intact primary rainforest that has avoided degradation, unlike almost all other remaining Malagasy forests. And as a special Valentine’s Day gift, all donations to this project will be quadrupled, meaning you can save four times as much rainforest for our long-fingered friends!