project news

Trapped like a Mouse Lemur

News item submitted by Jyot Jabbal
News item dated 8 Sep 2010

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The Frontier Madagascar research team has been laying out traps to identify the small mammal species present in isolated forests in Northern Madagascar. Until recently, black rats were the most common hostage, but as the surveys progress, there have been instances of Mouse Lemur (Microcebus) captured.

These nocturnal creatures are the smallest known primates. They are versatile feeders; omnivorous, with diets varying between seasons. Insect secretions are consumed for nutrients, together with fruits, tree gum, vegetation and even small vertebrates. The lemurs are cautious animals, and feeding and hibernation is governed by seasonal fluctuations.

As part of the Lemur group, they are protected by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora. Yet, they have been known to be caught and sold by poachers, marketed as exotic pets. Endemic to Madagascar, their persistence in these dwindling forest fragments is also cause for some concern, as they rely heavily on the habitat resources to survive. Most species are arboreal, placing deforestation and habitat loss as the number one threat to their survival.

There are at least 18 species of Mouse Lemur, found in different regions of Madagascar and varying in size, colouring and behaviour. It is thought that there may be other species present in more isolated areas. However, with the current rate of environmental decline, their habitats may no longer be able to support them.

 

Read more about our Madagascar Wildlife Conservation Project