An endangered species of lemur is being given a fighting chance of survival with support from the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation. (YWPF)
The charity has made a three-year grant worth £15,000 to help protect the blue-eyed black lemur, whose numbers in the wild have been reduced to less than 1,000 by slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting. The funds, announced to celebrate World Lemur Day on Monday, will go to a protected reserve being established in their native North West Madagascar.
The YWPF’s award was made to the AEECL (Association Européenne pour l’Étude et la Conservation des Lémuriens) to mark World Lemur Day on 31st October, which is fittingly on Halloween as the word lemur in Malagasy translates to ghost.
The AEECL, a charity based organisation run by a consortium of European zoos and universities, carries out a range of work including educating local communities, developing eco-tourism and promoting research and studies of the animals in the wild.
Madagascar is home to 110 species of lemur but all of them could be lost over the next 20 years because of rapidly disappearing habitat. The blue-eyed black lemur has been given less than a decade if its numbers continue to dwindle.
“We are so pleased to announce our involvement in AEECL’s project.” said Cheryl Williams, YWPF Trustee.
“Raising awareness and educating about endangered species is important as we need donations to provide a safe environment for these animals. This cannot be done without the help of the public.”
The first World Lemur Festival will take place in Madagascar with events culminating on World Lemur Day to raise awareness of the critical danger they face. YWPF is committed to several conservation and animal welfare programmes including a three-year £34,500 project to help protect lions at the Niassa National Reserve, in Mozambique, by providing a range of new measures to protect their numbers.
YWPF, established in 2013, has also worked with many projects ranging from Polar Bears, Amur Leopards and Tigers to one of Africa’s most endangered carnivores, the Painted Hunting Dog and an ongoing welfare project in Vietnam to improve standards at Hanoi Zoo.
The Foundation is based at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, at Branton, near Doncaster, which is itself a centre for conservation and offers visitors an unrivalled opportunity to come almost face to face with some of the world’s most endangered and beautiful animals, including ring-tailed and black and white ruffed lemurs in the walkthrough area Lemur Woods.