The bizarre, wondrous creature known as the aye-aye is a rare resident of Madagascar, a nation with among the greatest biodiversity in the world. There are countless animals there that simply can't be found anywhere else on the planet. Unfortunately, a recent military coup overthrew Madagascar's government, and ever since, criminals have been plundering and butchering the country's wildlife at a disastrous rate. As for the aye-aye, which naturalist Stephen Fry says looks like someone tried to "turn a bat into a cat," but I think looks more like a teddy bear mixed with a mad scientist--it stands to be wiped out by this illicit trade.The coup took place last March, and as a result humanitarian aid groups fled the country and law and order has been scarce. A criminal network soon emerged, taking advantage of the lack of a regulatory body to plunder the wildlife. It's been a tragic catastrophe, and animals like the aye-aye have taken the brunt of it.
The BBC reports:
From a wildlife point of view, in particular, it has resulted in huge numbers of lemurs, including several endangered species, being captured for the pet trade or butchered for sale to restaurants.Rampant deforestation, and a skyrocketing population that's putting a strain on the ecosystems have been serious problems recently, and the criminal element is only making matters much worse.
Stalked by hunters, running out of forest to call home, and competing more than ever for resources, the aye-aye's chances for survival are slim. And it's just one of the many biological treasures the world stands to lose should such forces continue to plague the country. I'll leave the final words to the BBC's Mark Cawardine, who sums it up best:
Madagascar was already one of the world's highest conservation priorities. But the recent troubles will impoverish it still further. Without urgent action, it faces an ecological disaster that could wipe out some of the most wonderful animals and plants on earth.
More on the Aye-Aye
Who Wants to Save the Aye - Aye ?
"Weird" Animals Need Protection, Too