If you enjoyed David Attenborough’s series on Madagascar last year, don’t miss the new documentary called Martin Clunes: The Lemurs of Madagascar, which is showing on ITV1 at 9pm on Tuesday 5th June.
The programme sees Martin realise a childhood dream of visiting the Indian Ocean island to see the planet’s last surviving lemurs. These iconic and endearing primates live only on Madagascar and a number of the species – there are over 100 different species in total - are being endangered by the presence of hunters and the destruction of forests in areas that are not adequately protected.
Madagascar broke away from mainland Africa about 140million years ago, and it is thought the lemurs arrived on the island on rafts of matted vegetation 60 million years ago. They evolved into more than 100 different species to make best use of the abundant sources of food on this island, which has been called Eden with its thousands of unique plants and animals. Martin’s journey takes him to remote corners of the island in search of these cute primates, which range in size from just over an ounce to over twenty pounds.
Madagascar lost much of its bilateral funding after the political events of 2009 and this has affected conservation adversely. Environmental tourism is now more crucial than ever and a Madagascar holiday can make a very positive contribution towards conservation by giving impoverished local communities an incentive to earn money from protecting their forests and wildlife, rather than allowing miners and logging syndicates to destroy their environment, whilst simultaneously poaching wildlife to supplement their diet.