INTRODUCTION

It gives us great pleasure to present this new App for Lemur-Watching; the first of its kind ever produced. This App is based on the third and fourth editions of Lemurs of Madagascar, with updates since the most recent of these, the French version, was published in 2014. As you will see, one of the main purposes of this App is to stimulate Lemur Ecotourism in the form of Lemur-Watching and Lemur Life-Listing, part of a global effort to stimulate Primate Ecotourism worldwide. We hope that this new tool will further encourage people to visit Madagascar and contribute to the conservation of these very endangered creatures, one of the most fascinating group of animals on our planet. As is already well known, Madagascar is without a doubt the world’s highest primate conservation priority, with very high species diversity and unmatched endemism at the species, genus, and family levels. It is the second country on the world list for primate species diversity (in spite of being less than 7% the size of Brazil, the world leader in this respect, and roughly one-third the size of Indonesia, the third on the list), and its 103 species (107 taxa when you include subspecies) are all endemic.1 This diversity is even more striking at the generic and family levels—fully five families and 15 genera are found nowhere else. Compare this to Brazil, the richest country on Earth in terms of primate species and subspecies, with 149 (85 or 57% of which are endemic); only three of its 18 genera are endemic, and none of its five families. Furthermore, based on the most recent IUCN Red-Listing Workshop, held in Antananarivo in July, 2012, 87% of the lemurs are now threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List of 2015; 24 of these are Critically Endangered, 49 are Endangered, and another 20 are Vulnerable. Four of the species and subspecies are currently listed as Data Deficient, and the threatened status of another four species, described after the 2012 workshop, have yet to be assessed. Looking at Madagascar’s primate diversity in yet another way, although it is only one of 86 countries to have wild primate populations, it alone is home to 15% (107 of 702) of all primate species and subspecies, 20% (15 of 76) of all primate genera, and 36% (5 of 16) of all primate families—a great responsibility for one single nation. Madagascar also demonstrates clearly that primate extinctions are a very real phenomenon and not just a figment of the conservationist’s imagination (see Extinct Lemurs). Fully eight genera and at least 17 species of lemur have already gone extinct on this island since the arrival of our own species there roughly 2,000 years ago. As indicated in the pages that follow, many others could disappear within the next few decades if rapid action is not taken. Today, the major threats to lemurs include deforestation due to slash-and-burn agriculture (known as tavy in Madagascar), logging, firewood collection, charcoal production, the seasonal burning of dry forests to create cattle pasture, and live capture of lemurs as pets. Sadly, the hunting of lemurs as a source of food, a threat that we used to consider less severe than in other parts of the world, is now emerging as a major problem in many areas. It therefore requires special attention. What is more, Madagascar is just coming out of a five-year period of political turmoil, with a coup that took place in early 2009 and a government that lasted until the end of 2013, unrecognized by any other nation on Earth. Although many conservation activities continued in spite of the political problems, the breakdown of law and order in certain parts of the country had serious impacts, and much of it continues to the present day even under the legitimate government of President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, elected in December 2013, and inaugurated in January, 2014. This has especially been the case in parks and reserves with valuable timber such as the national parks of Marojejy and Masoala in the northeastern part of the country. Almost immediately following the onset of the crisis, illegal loggers moved into both of these protected areas. Organized hunting of lemurs for commercial purposes sprung up in that region as well, but now appears to be under control—at least for the time-being—as a result of a concerted international press campaign that brought the issue to the attention of the Malagasy authorities. To further exacerbate the problem, most international donor agencies suspended their support to Madagascar, excepting only assistance for the most dire humanitarian situations. This suspension has included support for conservation programs from bilateral agencies, the World Bank, and others. Most of the international and national non-governmental organizations, however, continued to be active in Madagascar even during the crisis, and we were able to maintain many of the most important programs, although with far less resources. Fortunately, following the election of President Rajaonarimampianina, much of this foreign assistance has been reinstated, but the capacity to absorb new resources remains somewhat limited. Conservation International and the Primate Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC), along with numerous other organizations, have long recognized Madagascar as one of their top priorities. Our four editions of Lemurs of Madagascar were designed to facilitate the identification of lemurs in the field and to summarize available data on their ecology, distribution and conservation status—in the hope that this would stimulate further interest in the survival of these animals in their natural habitats. The same is now true of this Lemur-Watching App. Amazingly, in spite of several centuries of observation and collection and five decades of research, we are still discovering new species, we are not clear as to the limits of the distributions of many of the known species, and we have at best only anecdotal information on the conservation status and population numbers for the majority of them. Increased field and laboratory research is showing us how little we knew of these animals as recently as a decade ago. Indeed, a total of 48 lemur species and subspecies previously unknown to science have been described since the first edition of this guide was published in 1994; four of them since the fourth edition in 2014. Since 1994, a further nine old names have been resurrected from the literature (Microcebus griseorufus, Cheirogaleus crossleyi, Cheirogaleus sibreei, Cheirogaleus thomasi, Lepilemur ankaranensis, Hapalemur meridionalis, Eulemur rufifrons, Varecia variegata editorum and Varecia variegata subcincta) based on a re-evaluation of the diversity of each genus2. Much of this work has been conducted by authors of this volume. As we launch this App, we know of still more that await formal description, along with a number of others that may be new to science but which need further investigation. All these additions will bring the total lemur list for Madagascar to well over 110 and perhaps as many as 125, an amazing number for an island this size and with so little habitat remaining. Madagascar is sometimes referred to as the “eighth continent,” and for primates this is certainly the case since this particular fauna is comparable in every way to that of Africa, South and Central America, and Asia. In addition to the description of previously unknown taxa, field research continues to fill the gaps in our knowledge of species once believed to be extremely rare and endangered. Two good examples are the hairy-eared dwarf lemur (Allocebus trichotis) and the aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis). Both were once believed to be nearly extinct, but they now continue to be found at new (though still widely dispersed) sites in different parts of the country. Neither is ever found in large numbers nor at high densities, so we cannot consider their populations to be secure, but their situation is certainly better than had been believed as recently as 15–20 years ago. On the other hand, with the description of so many new species (splitting up what were once considered wide-ranging forms), the conservation challenge increases dramatically. Indeed, many of the new taxa are known only from their type localities, and quite a few have tiny ranges in areas of extreme habitat fragmentation. Surely, as knowledge increases, a number of these new forms are likely to enter the ranks of the Endangered and even the Critically Endangered. Given the amazing diversity of Madagascar’s lemur fauna and its great global importance, it is sobering to reflect on the extent of the degradation and loss of their forest habitats. By the 1950’s only 27% of Madagascar was forested3 and this had further declined to an estimated 16% by 2005 (Harper et al., 2007; MEFT, USAID and CI, 2009). About 50,000 ha of forest was destroyed each year between 2000 and 2005 (MEFT, USAID and CI, 2009). This equates to a current cover of about 94,000 km² of spiny, dry and humid forests (MEFT, USAID and CI, 2009)—an area roughly equivalent to the American state of Indiana. However, it should be remembered that the fragmentation and isolation of the forest fragments is extreme. Harper et al. (2007) calculated that the area of what they termed “core forest” (forest more than 1 km from a forest edge) decreased from more than 90,000 km² in the 1950s to less than 20,000 km² in 2000. The area in patches of 100 km² or more decreased by more than half in that period. In 2003, only about 3% of Madagascar’s land area was protected, which corresponds to around 17,000 km² (1.7 million ha) or slightly more than the size of Connecticut, and only a small portion of that was effectively managed. In light of this, it was particularly encouraging when, in 2003, the Government of Madagascar committed to tripling the country's protected area coverage in five years (subsequently revised to be by the end of 2012). This pledge was announced by President Marc Ravalomanana in September 2003, at the 5th World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa. This historic declaration served as a rallying point for everyone concerned for the biodiversity in Madagascar. Subsequently named “The Durban Vision,” this commitment attracted major international attention and funding. What is more, the government has made good progress towards this goal, creating 29 new protected areas covering 30,000 km², with the creation of a further 40 additional reserves covering 11,000 km² still underway. By January 2010, there were 4.7 million ha of protected area in Madagascar, and the government, NGOs and community groups were actively working to create a further 1 million ha. Fortunately, President Rajaonarimampianina has maintained “The Durban Vision,” and strongly reinforced it at the 6th World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia, in November, 2014, 11 years after Ravalomanana’s original declaration. He promised to make “official” all new protected areas created under “The Durban Vision” by May, 2015, a promise that he has since kept. The international community has pledged more than $50 million to a trust fund to cover some of the recurrent costs of the country's parks and reserves, a figure that was achieved by March, 2008, and continues to grow. Other funds are also providing significant support to Madagascar. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), for example, provides grants to non-governmental organizations so that they can conserve the world's biodiversity hotspots. In this context, CEPF granted $4.25 million to 40 projects implemented in Madagascar between 2001 and 2006, and $1.4 million to 10 projects from 2009 to 2012. Subsequent to this initial investment of $5.65 million, CEPF has now committed another $7.5 million to be spent in Madagascar and the neighboring Indian Ocean islands during the period 2015−2020. It is hoped that this first-ever App for Lemur-Watching will make a new contribution by providing user-friendly access to the most up-to-date information and by stimulating Lemur-Watching for everyone interested. The ecotourism industry, which had been growing steadily prior to the 2009 coup and which seems to be picking up once again, was fully espoused and supported by the government and by private enterprise. Indeed, it should continue as a major foreign exchange earner for the country, providing a strong economic justification for the maintenance and protection of parks, reserves and natural habitats. Since lemurs are the most attractive, conspicuous and best known component of Madagascar’s wildlife, they are ideally suited to stimulate the growth of ecotourism, and they continue to be Madagascar’s wildlife ambassadors to the world. Russell A. Mittermeier Executive Vice-Chair, Conservation International Chairman IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group Edward E. Louis Jr. Director, Conservation Genetics, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo Christoph Schwitzer Director of Conservation, Bristol Zoological Society Co-Vice Chair, Madagascar Section, IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group Olivier Langrand Executive Director, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund Anthony B. Rylands Senior Research Scientist, Conservation International Deputy Chair, IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group Frank Hawkins Director for North America, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Serge Rajaobelina President, Fanamby Jonah Ratsimbazafy Secretary General, Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar (GERP) Co-Vice Chair, Madagascar Section, IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group Rodin Rasoloarison University of Antananarivo, and Coordinator for the German Primate Center (DPZ) Christian Roos Geneticist, German Primate Centre (DPZ) Co-Vice Chair, Southeast Asian Section, IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group Peter M. Kappeler Professor for Sociobiology and Anthropology, University of Göttingen Director, Kirindy Forest Research Station (DPZ)