MADAGASCAR’S LEMURS CLING TO SURVIVAL
(P1) The famous lemurs of Madagascar face such SEVERE threats to their survival that none of them may be left in the wild within 25 years.
(P4) “My heart is broken,” he told the BBC, “because the situation is getting worse as more forests disappear every year. That means the lemurs are in more and more trouble.”
(P7) “Just as fish cannot survive without water, lemurs cannot survive without forest, but less than 10% of the original Madagascar forest is left,” said Prof Ratsimbazafy, who is also a co-vice chair of the Madagascar PRIMATES section of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
(P8) “I would believe that within the next 25 years, if the speed of the deforestation is still the same, there would be no forest left, and that means no lemurs left in this island.”
(P9) The PRESSURE to clear the forests comes from a rapidly growing but extremely poor population seeking to open up new farmland. At least 92% of people in Madagascar live on less than the equivalent of $2 a day.
(P13) Conservationists have long argued that slash-and-burn farming is NEEDLESSLY DAMAGING, leaving the soil UNPRODUCTIVE after a few years, and that more INTENSIVE forms of CULTIVATION would allow more forests to be left standing.
(P14) The government of Madagascar has recently CONFIRMED that as much as 10% of the country is now EARMARKED in some way for wildlife – from national parks to what are called protected areas – but the rules are often not ENFORCED at a local level.
(P15) Prof Ratsimbazafy said: “We have a struggle.”
(P16) He RECALLED how a new species of mouse lemur had once been discovered and identified in a forest only for that land to be cleared two years later.
(P18) In one protected area, Maromizaha, his organisation, GERP, is hiring local people to keep watch over the forest and to act as guides for tourists, making the point that the lemurs can worth more alive than dead.
(P19) It is also supporting new VENTURES in the local village including fish-farming and bee-keeping, and teaching new TECHNIQUES for rice-growing that do not require CONSTANT EXPANSION into the forest.
(P20) Nearby, a reserve known as Mitsinjo is run by a COOPERATIVE group set up by guides who encourage eco-tourism and ENSURE that the lemurs are safe – a model of management widely seen as promising.
(P25) The organisation’s director, Julie Razafimamahaka, told us that her researchers persuaded a hunter to allow them to observe him searching for the largest of Madagascar’s lemurs, the Indri, famous for their size and black, white and grey fur.
(P26) “My team met with the hunter and followed him in the forest and saw him using guns and shooting the Indris and bringing back five to the shops and small restaurants.
(P27) “Families were then cooking and eating them. That was very shocking.”
(P29) In one area, new ARRIVALS persuaded local people to hunt Indri for them. And when the locals saw that breaking the taboo did not bring them bad luck, they too started eating the lemurs.
(P30) What had begun as a research project by Voakajy was quickly switched into a campaign to try to save the lemurs with an education campaign in schools.
(P31) According to Julie Razafimamahaka, a survey of opinion among children conducted after the campaign found a clear difference in attitude towards the lemurs.
(P32) “We have seen that children that have been educated are more aware of the protected status of the lemurs and they have a more positive PERCEPTION of them, so they would be sad if the lemurs were dying and they would be happy to see one.
(P33) “But children at schools where we didn’t do the education still thought lemurs were bushmeat – they thought they could eat them and most didn’t care if there were lemurs or not because they’re just like any animals.”
(P36) It concluded that 94% of lemur species were at risk – an increase from 66% only seven years earlier – and HIGHLIGHTED the URGENT need to engage local people, FOSTER eco-tourism, and maintain a permanent research presence in the forests.
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- Lemurs are especially beautiful animals. What do you think are the best-looking animals?
- Why do the children who are fed lemur meat suffer less malnutrition?
- Eco-tourism, including lemur-watching, is growing in Madagascar. Does your country have much eco-tourism?
- Would you go on a wildlife watching expedition, or do you prefer a more comfortable vacation in a hotel?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- Breeding colony
- Set up