Not many animals can say their new best friend is a British billionaire but lemurs are proud to announce such extraordinary news. Sir Richard Branson has taken an interest in the cute, furry little primates and has decided to turn one of his private Caribbean Islands into a lemur paradise. Lemurs are native to the island of Madagascar, located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa, and is the only place in the world where lemurs live in the wild. A coup in 2009, and the rise of illegal logging in Madagascar’s rainforests, threaten to destroy the endangered animals habitat and push them further towards extinction. Sir Richard looks to create a preserve to help the lemur step back from the brink; but his aim at cultivating lemurs in an environment — which isn’t their own natural habitat — has garnered criticisms as to how the lemurs will affect the islands natural habitat and ecosystem.
The idea of transporting species from place to place for the sake of conservation has scientists questioning his methods — moving species from one continent to another for conservation purposes is relatively unheard of — and pointing out that other previous species’ introductions have proven disastrous to native wildlife. Sir Richard’s team maintains that both the lemurs — coming from zoos — and native animals will be fine. “We’ve been helping to try and preserve lemurs, and sadly in Madagascar because of the government being overthrown the space for lemurs is getting less and less,” Sir Richard told BBC News. “Here on Moskito Island we’ve got a beautiful rainforest – we brought in experts from South Africa, and they say it would be an absolutely perfect place where lemurs can be protected and breed.” Sir Richard is known for being responsible when it comes to his many philanthropic endeavors, and has told The Guardian that local species would be protected if it ever became clear that the lemurs were posing a threat.