Target: Hery Rajaonarimampianina, President of Madagascar
Goal: Protect lemurs’ forest habitats from destruction
Human activity is driving rare lemur species to extinction. Since a 2009 political crisis in Madagascar, habitat destruction, loss, and fragmentation – the main threats to biodiversity worldwide – have been on the rise. In a nation fraught with poverty, more than ninety-two percent of the population lives on less than two U.S. dollars a day. People have resorted to illegal logging, mining, slash and burn agriculture, and hunting of the animals for bush meat, activities that on top of being unlawful, severely endanger lemur populations.
Pressed by high foreign demand for rare hardwood, people are looking more and more to the forests as a way to make money. Political strife and corruption have meant that not even Madagascar’s few protected areas have been spared, according to a recent report in Science magazine. Lemurs’ crucial role in sustaining the region’s forests, which are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, mean that losing them could condemn the forests to catastrophe, triggering decades-long extinctions.
In order to save lemurs, Madagascar’s government must take immediate action. Creating new protected areas and improving management for existing ones are crucial first steps. Community involvement in both of these initiatives is essential. Especially in environmentally sensitive areas, conservation leadership at the community level underscores the value of animals like lemurs and local ecosystems more broadly. Collaboration among locals, researchers, and non-governmental organizations has been shown to halt destruction of habitat and killings of animals. But with a new president elected in December, 2013, Madagascar has the opportunity to take biodiversity conservation to the next level.
Please sign the petition below, and help save lemurs – and Madagascar’s ecosystems – from extinction.
Dear President Rajaonarimampianina,
I am writing about a serious ecological crisis within your nation’s forests: the endangerment of endemic lemurs due to habitat destruction, loss, and fragmentation. Lemurs’ crucial role in sustaining your nation’s forests, which are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, means that losing them could condemn local biodiversity to catastrophe, triggering decades-long extinctions.
I urge you to lead Madagascar in creating new protected areas and improving management of existing ones. Empowering local communities to take these crucial first steps would underscore the value of animals like lemurs, which are emblematic of a national ecotourism industry. Prioritizing ecological conservation may also help bring in support from international institutions, researchers and non-governmental organizations, which would bolster domestic efforts. In this moment you have the opportunity to establish a new tradition of conservation. Your leadership is essential if we are to save a species and an ecosystem.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Michelle Bender via flickr