LaFleur, M. Reuter, K., and C. P. terHorst. 2019.

LaFleur, M. Reuter, K., and C. P. terHorst. 2019. Illegal trade of wild ring-tailed lemurs, an
endangered species, within Madagascar. Folia Primatol DOI: 10.1159/000496970. PDF

Abstract: Lemur catta is the most reported illegal captive lemur. We document 286 L. catta
that were held in illegal captive conditions in Madagascar. Coastal tourist destinations
are “hot spots” for sightings. Many of the L. catta reported were in businesses (49%) and
were perceived to be held captive for the purpose of generating income (41%). Infant/
juvenile L. catta were overwhelmingly observed annually in December (41%) and may
suffer high mortality rates given that they are not weaned during this month of the year.
Population growth modeling suggests that known capture rates may be sustainable in
all but small populations of 500 individuals and when infants/juveniles are targeted.
However, of the seven remaining populations of L. catta with more than 100 individuals,
only one is known to contain more than 500 animals, and we present evidence here that
infants/juveniles are targeted. Moreover L. catta face significant other threats including
habitat loss, bushmeat hunting, and climate change. Several actions could reduce the
illegal capture and ownership of L. catta in Madagascar such as tourist behavior change
initiatives, enforcement of laws, and alternative livelihoods for local people. These interventions
are urgently needed and could be adapted to protect other exploited wildlife
in the future.

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