CITES: Appendix I
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IUCN Red List: D. madagascariensis: NT
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Key: NT = Near threatened
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Photo: David Haring
The aye-aye is seen as a priority for conservation as it represents the only surviving member of the
Daubentoniidae Family. Its level of protection is grounded on an attempt to
preserve it as the only surviving member of a unique evolutionary history
(Feistner & Carroll 1993).
Threat: Human Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation
As with most other primates, the most serious threat to the aye-aye is habitat
loss. Expanding human populations and economic factors are causing encroachment
into forested areas. Largely due to human action, over 80% of Madagascar is now
covered with prairie, and vast forests are now gone (Feistner & Carroll
1993). This is predicted to bring the aye-aye into contact with humans more and
more (Sterling & Feistner 2000). All of this is exacerbated by the
fact that aye-ayes occur at low densities anyway so that any habitat loss will
serve to further isolate already dispersed populations.
Within Madagascar, there is a widespread cultural belief that aye-ayes are
harbingers of bad luck and must be killed on sight (Simons & Meyers
2001). There is significant regional variation in beliefs about the aye-aye,
but generally they are taboo, and if sighted, some sort of action must be taken
to mitigate potentially ill effects (Petter 1977; Harcourt & Thornback 1990;
Feistner & Carroll 1993; Sterling & Feistner 2000; Simons &
Meyers 2001; Mittermeier et al. 2006). Unfortunately for the aye-aye, often
the action taken to prevent bad luck is to kill the animal (Harcourt
& Thornback 1990; Feistner & Carroll 1993; Petter 1997;
Sterling & Feistner 2000; Simons & Meyers 2001). Once killed,
the aye-aye is then sometimes eaten in accordance with the beliefs of certain
groups (Simons & Meyers 2001). In stark contrast to the negative
widespread beliefs, at least one region in the southeast of the island views
aye-ayes as harbingers of good luck due to a supposed human origin for
the species (Sterling & Feistner 2000).
Aye-ayes are also killed in retaliation for
having been observed in one case to destroy 80-100%
of the coconut crop in two villages (Andriamasimanana 1994). Coupled with the
widespread cultural beliefs, this poses a serious
ongoing threat to aye-aye populations. Unfortunately, with decreasing habitat,
aye-ayes will be forced into more frequent contact with humans, which will likely
exacerbate these problems.
LINKS TO MORE ABOUT CONSERVATION
Content last modified: July 27, 2007
Written by Kurt Gron. Reviewed by Eleanor Sterling.
Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2007 July 27. Primate Factsheets: Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) Conservation . <http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/aye-aye/cons>. Accessed 2015 March 5.