Biodiversity in the Crosshairs: The End of the Ring-tailed Lemur?

EarthzineOriginal, SGS 2017, St. George's School

The catta (ring-tailed) lemur is a unique species from Madagascar that is in danger because of the deforestation in its habitat. Its population has decreased to such an extent that it is on the verge of extinction. The problem threatens primates and Madagascar’s biodiversity.

At St. George’s School (Bogotá, Colombia), 77 senior science students examined biodiversity issues using Earth observation images and information. Working groups created posters and texts in both English and Spanish. This is one of the submissions selected for publication.

Members: Alejandra Arias, Sebastián Castro, Juan Diego Mayorga, Daniel Martínez, Ana Rengifo, Lorena Yáñez


This research intends to address the problem of ring-tailed lemur extinction in the forests of southern Madagascar. In this way, it seeks to answer the question: How is human intervention and the process of deforestation related to the risk of extinction of the ring-tailed lemur and its habitat in south Madagascar?
First, deforestation has negatively impacted lemur habitat, affecting the primate’s population and Madagascar’s biodiversity. Research findings show that lemurs play a key role in the biodiversity of an ecosystem, as they represent not only the main food source for some species, but also are in charge of providing shelter and habitat for other species. However, due to a reduction of forests, the number of ring-tailed lemurs has progressively decreased. In consequence, if the deforestation carries on, the lemur population will halt its growth completely, passing a point of no return and generating everlasting effects on the island’s flora and fauna. Furthermore, the findings show that lemurs are the ones in charge of distributing tree seeds throughout the habitat, which allows the process of reforestation to be accomplished. For this reason, lemurs are a fundamental species that promote the natural functions of their surroundings.