Lemurs, a primate found only on the African island of Madagascar, are headed for extinction, warned a group of scientists who declared that the creature should be placed on the “Red List of Threatened Species.”
The Primate Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) determined that 23 species of lemurs are now “Critically Endangered” (the highest threat level); 52 are “Endangered” and another 19 classified as “Vulnerable to Extinction.”
“Critically Endangered” means that the total population comprises less than 50 mature adults and the overall numbers have endured an 80 percent plunge over the past ten years.
That means that 91 percent of 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 Russ Mittermeier, chairman of IUCN and president of Conservation International, according to BBC.
The animals’ existence and habitat are threatened by massive illegal hunting and logging on the island, which is three years removed from a political coup.
About 90 percent of Madagascar’s primal forest habitat has vanished, posing a threat not only to the survival of lemurs, but of other animals, including mongoose and the Malagasy giant rat.