Richard Branson’s lemur plan raises alarm

by Rebecca on April 18, 2011

in Animal Stories

Personally, I think it’s a great idea to bring the lemur to the Caribbean, but clearly not everyone does according to the following article:

By Richard Black, Environment correspondent, BBC News

Sir Richard Branson is to import lemurs to the Caribbean, where they will live wild in the forest on his islands.

The project has alarmed conservation scientists, who point out that many previous species introductions have proved disastrous to native wildlife.

But Sir Richard’s team maintains that both the lemurs, which will come from zoos, and native animals will be fine.

Introducing species found on one continent into another for conservation purposes is virtually unprecedented.

Lemurs are found only on the African island of Madagascar and many species are threatened, largely because of deforestation.

The threat has grown worse since the toppling of President Marc Ravalomanana’s government two years ago, which allowed illegal logging to flourish.

“We’ve been helping to try and preserve lemurs, and sadly in Madagascar because of the government being overthrown the space for lemurs is getting less and less,” Sir Richard told BBC News from his Caribbean property.

“Here on Moskito Island we’ve got a beautiful rainforest – we brought in experts from South Africa, and they say it would be an absolutely perfect place where lemurs can be protected and breed.”

Ring-tailed and red ruffed lemurs are two of the species in the plan. Both are on the Red List of Threatened Species.

Moskito (also spelled Mosquito) Island is one of two that Sir Richard owns in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Several luxury houses, including one for the boss of the Virgin business empire himself, are being built on it.

Red ruffed lemur
The red ruffed lemur is one of many sliding towards extinction, as logging proceeds
 


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