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How Mapping Trees Can Help Endangered Lemur Populations

By Kristin Hunt

The lemur is one of the world’s most threatened animals. Experts believe that 95 percent of lemur species and subspecies are “critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable to extinction,” according to The Independent. The ring-tailed lemur alone has practically disappeared from Madagascar, dropping to such drastic numbers that there are now more ring-tailed lemurs in zoos than in the wild.

Conservationists have always had a tough time protecting lemurs, partially because it’s hard to keep track of them. But a new study from Duke University proposes an easy way to monitor lemur populations — and suggests there may be more out there than previously believed.

The Duke scientists found that counting the number of trees where lemurs live was a reliable method for estimating population numbers. Since lemurs mainly eat leaves, fruits, and flowers, trees provide both their sustenance and shelter. So if the trees were missing or scattered, the team discovered, so were the lemurs.