Today is World Lemur Day, when we celebrate both the uniqueness and diversity of Madagascar’s lemurs - the world’s most threatened group of mammals. Today, however, with the announcement of the first nine of eleven new lemur conservation projects by SOS - Save Our Species, the future is looking that little bit brighter for these charismatic primates and the communities who depend on their survival.
Specifically, these first nine projects will be supporting direct conservation work in nine different priority locations while helping protect 24 threatened lemur species. This includes Aye-Ayes, Sifakas and Indris as well as many lesser known ones. In total this first phase of funding will help protect nine Critically Endangered, nine Endangered and six Vulnerable species as classified by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Details of all eleven projects will be provided in the first quarter of 2016 when SOS expects to launch and communicate on each.
The total funding allocated to the nine first projects is in excess of US$ 500,000 coming from the Global Environment Facility - one of three SOS Founding Partners along with IUCN and the World Bank - as well as a generous donation from Fondation Segré and another anonymous donor.
This latest chapter in the longer, wider story to save Madagascar’s unique biodiversity began when SOS Lemurs was announced in August 2015. As a special initiative of SOS - Save Our Species, coordinated by IUCN, it aligned closely with the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Primate Specialist Group’s Lemur Action Plan, published in 2014.
Responding to a subsequent public call for proposals, locally based conservation actors submitted a variety of project applications. Those that contributed to the goals set out by that plan were shortlisted for evaluation.
Commenting on the news, Dr. Russell A. Mittermeier, Chair of the SSC Primate Specialist Group said “all of the lemurs of Madagascar are endemic. And we have a huge challenge ahead of us to ensure this unique portion of our global primate diversity survives. This is where the SOS Lemurs seed funding comes in: to protect existing government areas, create new community reserves and really develop a series of livelihood opportunities for communities so they become the major advocates for lemur conservation.”
Jean-Christophe Vié, IUCN Global Species Programme Deputy Director adds, “conserving nature is not only about climate change, not only about natural resources. It is also about wildlife and communities. We know we can save species by pooling resources and working together according to evidenced based science. SOS has broadly demonstrated that and with lemurs we are applying the model to one country and one group of animals”.
Meanwhile SOS Lemurs remains open to immediate support through a match-funding campaign. All donations to SOS Lemurs received before December 31 2015 made via Global Giving USA, Global Giving UK, 1% for the Planet and the SOS website donate button will contribute directly to SOS Lemurs and will be match funded by SOS to a total of US$ 200,000.
To find out more about how to participate visit www.SaveOurSpecies.org/SOS Lemurs and watch this short film about this Special Initiative:
The overall aims for SOS Lemurs is to coordinate efforts of the conservation community active on the ground in Madagascar and empower them to save lemurs from extinction while fully financing the $8 million Lemur Action Plan within a three year timeframe.
Consequently SOS continues to actively engage with public and private sector donors interested to join and leverage this partnership in subsequent funding phases.