News Release

IUCN’s Save Our Species announces SOS Lemurs – an SOS Special Initiative

06 August 2015
Young black and white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata editorum)
Photo: Russ Mittermeier

In July 2015, SOS – Save Our Species launched its fourth Call for Proposals (CFP); this time dedicated to helping save Madagascar’s lemurs. Successful projects from this CFP will be the first grantees in the SOS Lemurs Special Initiative. For more information, applicants can follow this link to compete for a grant before 7th September 2015.

By aligning closely with the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Primate Specialist Group’s Lemur Action Plan published in 2014, this SOS Special Initiative, titled SOS Lemurs, is an application of needs based conservation action in a nutshell.

SOS Lemurs harnesses the aggregating potential of the SOS model: pooling funds from donors and disbursing them in the form of small to medium size grants to existing Madagascar-based conservation actors while applying world class project management to ensure every conservation dollar is used to its potential.

In this respect, SOS is actively engaging with public and private sector donors interested to join and leverage this partnership to help achieve their strategic environmental conservation goals concerning Malagasy biodiversity and ecosystems.

SOS Lemurs is also an excellent example of IUCN’s unique ability to convene and leverage the energies of various stakeholders in the global conservation community to achieve needs based conservation goals. In this case, SOS Lemurs connects donors with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, the IUCN Species Survival Commission and the Lemur Conservation Network – a coalition of 40 NGOs united to streamline conservation in Madagascar.

According to the IUCN Red List, over 90% of lemur species are threatened with extinction due to habitat destruction caused by slash-and-burn agriculture and illegal logging, as well as hunting. Combined, these pressures have made lemurs the most threatened mammal group on earth.

Rufous-fronted brown lemur (Eulemur rufifrons). Photo: Russ MittermeierStill, some might ask why protect lemurs? Dr. Russ Mittermeier, Executive Vice-Chair of Conservation International, an IUCN Member is succinct. “Lemurs are Madagascar’s most distinctive global brand and a major asset in scientific, cultural, and economic terms.”

Apart from being some of the most charismatic mammal species and being intrinsic to Madagascar as we know it, according to Dr. Mittermeier’s colleague Dr. Christoph Schwitzer, The Lemur initative also incorporates Malagasi communities, helping them protect their livelihoods. Photo: Russ Mittermeierlemurs play critical ecological roles in maintaining the island’s forest habitats. Healthy populations indicate a healthy environment and their loss could likely trigger extinction cascades. This would have likely disastrous consequences for local communities who depend on these habitats for their livelihoods, not least for revenues generated by lemur-based tourism.

Cue the development of the Lemur Action Plan in 2013. Forest on Madagascar, one of the Lemurs' habitats. Photo: Russ MittermeierDrawing on the collective expertise of primatologists forming the Primate Specialist Group of the IUCN SSC, this project evaluated the conservation status of all lemur species and developed a targeted plan to prevent their extinction. The total cost of which is estimated at USD $8 million.

Focusing on 30 of the highest priority areas for lemur conservation where site-based activities should be developed the plan is a roadmap to long-term lemur Isalo landscape, one of Madagascar's many landscapes. Photo: Russ Mittermeiersurvival. The speed and scope of implementation will depend on the funding raised through public and private sector partners who wish to join SOS Lemurs.

Interested parties can download the SOS Lemurs proposal document here. Meanwhile, immediate partnership queries should be directed to Dr. Jean-Christophe Vié , Director of SOS – Save Our Species.

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