Roasted lemurs and criminal gangs exporting precious hardwood: this is the sad state of affairs for Madagascar's legendary biodiversity. Since a military coup forced the president to resign in March, conservationists and biologists have watched as loggers have stripped the country's forests and killed its animals for bushmeat.-- Madagascar biodiversity under threat as gangs run wild.
Much of the foreign aid to Madagascar has been withdrawn and, without a stable government to enforce rules and laws, criminal organisations have been quick to exploit the unique animal and plant life of the country.
"It has been a gold rush for logging gangs and bushmeat hunters to do as much as they can before the government gets organised and puts a stop to it," says Edward Louis, a conservation biologist at the Omaha Zoo, who has been working in Madagascar for a decade.
In August, Conservation International reported that 15 bushmeat traders, contracted by a restaurant, were arrested carrying hundreds of endangered lemurs, which had been killed and roasted. "This happened in one of the country's best managed parks," says [ the conservation biologist Edward Louis]. "If it's happening there, I can't begin to imagine what is happening elsewhere.
Related item: Conservation targets too low to save at-risk species.