Social animals, lemurs live in "troops" of 15-20 animals. (Photo: Darrel Gulin/Getty Images)
Rapid social change in Madagascar has sparked more hunting of rare and protected species such as the country’s weirdly wonderful lemurs. Physorg reports that the switch from subsistence farming to panning for gold means men have more leisure time, which they often spend in bars drinking beer and eating fried, meaty snacks—like lemur.
Julie Razafimanahaka, from the research organization Madagasikara Voakajy, connects this cultural shift with the fate of Madagascar’s world-famous ambassadors. “Lemur hunting appears to have increased to serve this new market. The power of the taboo [against hunting native species] is declining, under pressures of globalization and human mobility.”
Studies have shown that the local people prefer to eat chicken or pork, but folks who live in remote areas will eat “bushmeat” when the price of traditional meat is prohibitive. Richard Jenkins, also of Bangor University, says, “If domestic meats could be farmed more reliably and were therefore cheaper, the pressure on wild species may be reduced. More effort is needed to improve domestic animal husbandry methods and disease control in rainforest areas.”
Researchers are working with the Madagascar government to create an effective educational campaign to teach people just how vulnerable these rare lemurs are.