Lemurs in Madagascar: Surviving on an Island of Change Transcript

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Lemurs in Madagascar: Surviving on an Island of Change Transcript

Speakers: Ian Tattersall, Jonah Ratsimbazafy, Michelle Sauther, Frank Cuozzo

(Rain trickling, lemur sounds: squeaking and calling)

(Music playing in background)

IAN TATTERSALL: I think everybody who is involved with lemurs is concerned for the future. We’re in a finite island that cannot infinitely be exploited and ravaged. And if present trends continue, the outlook for any of the natural habitat or any of the lemurs is fairly poor.

(Birds chirping)

Lemurs are members of the order primates, that is to say the large group of mammals to which human beings also belong. And they’d found they are uniquely in Madagascar and on a couple of the adjacent islands of the Comoros group.

(Music playing in background)

An evolutionary radiation is the diversification of different species from the same ancestor and once a new kind of organism like a primate comes into a new environment as happened in Madagascar about sixty million years ago; there are many, many different ways in which that environment can be exploited. It’s very hard to say exactly how many species of lemur there are because new species are being described all of the time. But in general terms, there now looks to be about thirty to thirty-five species of lemurs and it shows us just what the potential of primates is to occupy an enormous range of different habitats.

(Music playing in background)

Habitat destruction takes place on a much shorter time scale than evolutionary change and the amount of change that is happening so rapidly in Madagascar as a result of human activities is clearly something with which no evolutionary process can cope.

JONAH RATSIMBAZAFY: Now we are here in Ranomafana National Park in the southeastern rainforest of Madagascar. This place used to be loved by loggers but since the park was created, the forest started to be productive. Here in Ranomafana, there are twelve different

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