Jul 16

The lemurs of Madagascar are far more threatened than previously thought, according to a new assessment for the IUCN.

Photo of ring-tailed lemur with young on back

Ring-tailed lemur

The assessment, being carried out by scientists from the Primate Specialist Group, aims to decide how lemurs should be classified on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It has found that over 90% of lemur species should be placed in the Red List threatened categories.

Most threatened mammal group

The previous IUCN lemur assessment, published in 2008, classified 8 lemur species as Critically Endangered, 18 as Endangered and 14 as Vulnerable. However, the new assessment shows a worrying increase in threat levels, with 23 lemurs qualifying as Critically Endangered, 52 as Endangered and 19 as Vulnerable.

That means that 91% of all lemurs are assessed as being in one of the Red List threatened categories, which is far and away the largest proportion of any group of mammals,” said Dr Russ Mittermeier, Chairman of the Primate Specialist Group and President of Conservation International.

Photo of Madame Berthe's mouse lemur resting on a branch

Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur

The scientists have also confirmed that there are more lemur species than previously thought. Detailed study and genetic testing have revealed a number of cases where lemurs have been presumed to be from the same species, but in fact are from different ones. The 103rd species, a new type of mouse lemur, was identified during this assessment but has yet to be named.

Lack of law enforcement

The main threats to lemurs come from widespread deforestation and hunting. Since a coup in Madagascar in 2009, repeated evidence of illegal logging has been found, while hunting of lemurs has emerged as a new and increasing threat. A decline in traditional taboos is also likely to be contributing to hunting of lemurs for bushmeat.

Photo of silky sifaka pair in tree

Silky sifakas

Although elections have been promised in the country, several scheduled election dates have already passed, and a lack of law enforcement is only exacerbating the threats to Madagascar’s wildlife.

Several national parks have been invaded, but of greater concern is the breakdown in control and enforcement,” said Dr Mittermeier. “There’s just no government enforcement capacity, so forests are being invaded for timber, and inevitably that brings hunting as well.”

Photo of Alaotran gentle lemur with young on back

Alaotran gentle lemur

Around 90% of Madagascar’s original forests have already been lost, and lemurs and other endemic species are becoming increasingly threatened within the remaining forest fragments.

The latest assessments of the conservation status of lemurs will be reviewed and confirmed by other experts before forming part of the IUCN’s next global Red List update.

Read more on this story at BBC News – Lemurs sliding towards extinction.

View photos and videos of lemurs on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Species Text Author

May 21

Here at ARKive, we love a conservation success story, and we were delighted when ARKive media donor Dr. Milada Řeháková-Petrů got in touch to share with us the latest news on the Tarsius Project – a research and conservation organisation centred around the Philippine tarsier.

For those of you unfamiliar with this extraordinary looking animal, the Philippine tarsier is a nocturnal primate endemic to the Philippines. It is perhaps most notable for its enormous eyes (tarsiers have the biggest eyes relative to their body weight of any mammal), and its ability to rotate its head nearly 360°. Philippine tarsiers are agile acrobats of the forest, making vertical leaps from tree to tree with ease, spending their days sleeping amongst dense vegetation and setting out to hunt for their insect prey as the sun goes down.

Philippine tarsier photo

Sadly, as a result of its cute, pixie like appearance, Milada explained that the Philippine tarsier is a common victim of the illegal pet trade, and that it is also often kept as a tourist attraction in very poor conditions. After conducting a survey of all the captive tarsier facilities on the main tourist route on Bohol Island, Milada tells us that the results were shocking. Kept in cramped conditions, many of the tarsiers were sick and dying, and being a nocturnal creature on display during the day, all were permanently stressed.

Philippine tarsier photo

Even more worryingly, when the captive tarsiers died, their numbers were being replenished by individuals captured from the wild, and the growing demand saw tarsiers slowly disappearing from neighbouring forests. Fortunately Milada and her team were able to document what was occurring, and highlighted the tarsier’s plight by presenting their results to the Minister of the Environment Ramon Paje, the Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Demetrio Ignacio,Bohol governor Edgar Chatto, DENR officials and other authorities.

Milada Řeháková

Fortunately, the authorities recognized the seriousness of the whole situation and it was decided that all the tarsiers from the facilities along the main tourist road would be transferred to more suitable conditions. Recently, a new naturally planted enclosure was opened in Loboc to provide the tarsiers with more space, and a less stressful environment. Most importantly, this step will hopefully decrease the demand for tarsiers poached from the wild.

Philippine tarsier photo

You can find information about the Tarsius Project and the work that Milada and her team do by checking out the Tarsius Project website, and the recent video documentary they have created.

Make sure to take a look at ARKive’s Philippine tarsier photos and videos too, many kindly provided by Milada and the Tarsius Project.

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher

May 3

For a bit of #WildlifeWednesday fun, we asked you to send us examples of bands or singers with animals in their names, and we got some great responses! We received a fabulous selection of actual band names as well as creative puns, from the Black Eyed Bees to Blenny Rogers, so we’ve put together a blog to showcase our favourites!

The Eagles

Philippine eagle image

The Philippine eagle is also known as the monkey-eating eagle

The Eagles are famous for the song ‘Hotel California’, but our ARKive eagle of choice hails from the other side of the world: the Philippines. The Philippine eagle is the world’s largest eagle, and is sadly one of the most threatened birds of prey.

Arctic Monkeys

Yunnan snub-nosed monkey image

The diet of the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey is composed primarily of lichens

This monkey may not be from the Arctic, but he certainly looks a little chilly! The Yunnan snub-nosed monkey is a rather elusive, Endangered primate from south-western China.

And now we’ll move on to some of the fabulous puns you all sent in!

Nine Inch Snails

Trachycystis haygarthi image

Trachycystis haygarthi is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List

We’re not sure the shape of this snail’s shell could be classed as ‘The Downward Spiral’ like the title of the 1994 album by Nine Inch Nails, but it’s certainly a spiral of some sort! This particular snail species, Trachycystis haygarthi, is endemic to South Africa, and so is found nowhere else in the world.

Gulls Aloud

Herring gull image

The herring gull is a supreme opportunist and scavenger

In 2005, Girls Aloud released the single ‘Wake Me Up’, and it seems that herring gulls across the UK took this message to heart, and appear to have made it their mission to squawk as loudly as possible in the early hours of the morning, waking up many a sleepy person!

Llama del Ray

Guanaco image

The guanaco can live at high elevations, as its blood can carry more oxygen than that of other mammals

A relative of the domestic llama, this guanaco appears to be singing along to the latest Lana del Rey song! We’re not sure this species is particularly tuneful, though…!

Fleetwood Macaque

Sunda pig-tailed macaque image

The Sunda pig-tailed macaque is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List

‘The Chain’ is a Fleetwood Mac classic, and this Sunda pig-tailed macaque appears to be joining in the song at full voice. Yet one type of chain this species would not be celebrating is the chainsaw. One of the main threats to this primate is habitat destruction as a result of tree felling in its forest home.

Dire Kraits

Banded sea krait image

The banded sea krait is highly venomous, but is rather docile

The Dire Straits song title ‘Down to the Waterline’ suits this amphibious reptile rather well! The banded sea krait leads a semi-aquatic lifestyle, and comes ashore to lay its eggs.

Mötley Shrew

Savi's pygmy shrew image

Savi's pygmy shrew is the smallest land mammal in the world

Mötley Crüe’s drummer Tommy Lee could certainly rock out on percussion at pretty mean speeds, yet as far as rapid beats go, even he would be no match for Savi’s pygmy shrew! This species has a heart rate of over a thousand beats per minute!

Def Leopard

Leopard image

Leopards can be individually identified by their spot patterns

Def Leppard’s fourth album included the hit single ‘Animal’, a rather appropriate song title for this blog!

The leopard certainly is a beautiful animal, with its gorgeous coat pattern of rosettes which enable it to remain camouflaged when hunting. Conservation efforts are vital to ensuring a future for this species, so that it is not left ‘High ‘n’ Dry’.

Moose Springsteen

Moose image

Along with the Eurasian elk, the moose is the largest living deer species

Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the U.S.A’ is potentially a rather fitting anthem for this large species, as the moose’s range does include parts of the United States, as well as Canada, Russia, northern Mongolia and northern China.

Thanks to everyone who sent in ideas, you certainly are a creative bunch!

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author

Apr 21

Last week lion-loving Maggie showed her support for her favourite species, but will this weeks team member be wild for whiskers or think scales are superior?

Merove Heifetz – Chief Operating Officer, Wildscreen USA

Favourite species? Bonobo

Why? It’s my favorite species because they are a very peaceful and intelligent species that are so incredibly human-like in their appearance and in their expressions.

Bonobo image

The bonobo is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List. The bonobo is threatened due to land conversion for agriculture throughout Congo, where it is endemic. The rising demand for bushmeat is also compromising the future of this human-like primate.

See more photos and videos of the bonobo on ARKive.

Apr 12

When biologist and photographer Alexandr Pospech got in touch with ARKive to offer some rare primate images we were understandably excited. During June 2011, Alex explained that he had participated in an expedition and study led by Brent Loken of Ethical Expeditions in the Wehea forest, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. In order to monitor the local wildlife, the team set up camera traps around a newly discovered mineral spring or ‘sepan’, and when checking the images three weeks later they turned up some surprising results.

Miller's grizzled langur photo

Dr. Stanislav Lhota confirmed that the team had recorded images of Miller’s grizzled langur, an Endangered subspecies of Hose’s langur. Miller’s grizzled langur is extremely rare and was previously listed as one of the world’s 25 most endangered primates – at one time some people even feared that it may have become extinct. The team’s discovery not only confirmed that a population of Miller’s grizzled langurs remains, it also provided evidence that the subspecies’ range extends further than previously thought.

Miller's grizzled langur photo

With the help of his assistant Yatim, Alexandr visited the place several times during following week and was able to build hides in which he spent 3 days in order to observe and photograph the langurs, producing the first ever high quality images of this rare subspecies, which he has kindly contributed to ARKive.

Miller's grizzled langur photo

Alexandr told us “I put a lot of energy into my photos with the goal of helping nature conservation. The days spent on photographing these langurs were extremely exhausting. When I came back late in the evening, took care of all the photo equipment and prepared for the next day, there were only about 3 hours left to sleep before setting up to the forest again. When I first saw the langurs in the viewfinder, I knew the effort was worth it. But the task of protecting wildlife all over the World has just started. And everyone can help.”

Make sure you check out Alexandr’s images on ARKive, and read more about his work on his website. You can also read the article produced by the team, which was published earlier this year in the American Journal of Primatology.

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher


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