IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, 14 January 2005 - Officials at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo (USA) announced the coming publication in the December 2005 issue (volume 26, no. 6) of the International Journal of Primatology the discovery of two new species of Sportive Lemur. The species are described by Dr. Edward Louis, head of the Genetics Department of the Grewcock Center for Conservation and Research Center at the zoo.
The two new species are located in very different forest types – in the rain forest of the east coast and in the dry forest of the west coast. The west coast species, Mitsinjo Sportive Lemur or Lepilemur mitsinjonensis, is named after the region. The east coast species, Seal’s Sportive Lemur or Lepilemur seali, is named in honour of Ulysses S. Seal III, former chairman of the Species Survival Commission’s Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG). This is a wonderful tribute to a man who had such a positve impact on so many people. His death nearly two years ago was a great loss, but during his lifetime he inspired many people in the CBSG and beyond by his passion for nature conservation, his belief in people and his commitment to applying the best science and social processes to solve important conservation problems.
Dr. Louis, Project Coordinator of HDZ’s Madagascar Biodiversity and Biogeography Project has been leading an extensive collaboration in conservation genetics with Madagascan wildlife agencies, conservation organizations and the University of Antananarivo since 1998. Dr. Louis and his team have taken genetic (DNA) samples from over 1,800 lemurs that were captured and then released back into the wild.
Madagascar is considered one of the most diverse and ecologically important regions in the world. Lemurs are only found in Madagascar and are considered extremely endangered due to the pressures of human encroachment and loss of habitat. Madagascar has lost approximately 11 million hectares (27 million acres) of its forest cover in the last 20 years. However, President Marc Ravalomanana has pledged to increase the amount of protected forest area over the next five years from approximately 1.5 million hectares to 5 million hectares.
Dr. Lee G. Simmons, Director of Omaha ’s Henry Doorly Zoo said “The discovery of any new species is noteworthy, the discovery of two new primate species is extraordinarily significant to science and conservation. We are very proud of Dr. Louis and his team’s accomplishments.”
For further information contact
Dr. Lee Simmons, Director of Omaha Doorly Zoo: Tel: ++1 402-733-8401
Andrew McMullin, IUCN Species Programme Communications Officers
Tel: +41 (0)22 999 0153