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2.6 billion years of primate and carnivore evolutionary history at risk

ving biodiversity hotspots can be seen in the examples of two lemurs that are found only in Madagascar. The Weasel Lemur (Lepilemur Mustelinus) has an estimated evolution history of 18.6 million years and the Ruffed Lemur (Varecia Variegata) dates back an estimated 16.6 million years. By comparison, Homo sapiens evolutionary history dates back only 7.1 million years.

We are facing double jeopardy. Not only are we in danger of losing species, but we are facing the loss of their legacy. These animals found in the biodiversity hotspots represent a huge repository of genetic diversity which is invaluable to the advancement of scientific research and the preservation of future biodiversity, said Gustavo Fonseca, CABS Executive Director.

The 25 biodiversity hotspots cover just 1.4 percent of the Earths land surface, yet claim more than 60 percent of total terrestrial biodiversity. Under extreme threat, many hotspots have lost more than 90 percent of their original natural habitat.

If the Louvre in Paris or the Pyramids were to be destroyed, there would be public outrage, said CI president Russell A. Mittermeier. When a rainforest disappears, however, nobody expresses alarm. Yet, the biodiversity hotspots hold an equal amount of the Earths treasures.

Conservation International recently announced an unprecedented global initiative to stop species extinctions in biodiversity hotspots and to protect large areas of major tropical wilderness areas. To launch this effort, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is providing CI with the largest gift ever given to a private conservation group, with a series of grants totaling up to $261 million over 10 years. With an alliance of conservation partners, CI aims to secure $1.5 billion in private investments over the next 10 years, and leverage another $4.5 billion from the public sector.

A blueprint for the initiative was developed during the Defying Natures End conference organized b
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Contact: Jason W. Anderson
j.anderson@conservation.org
202-912-1464
Conservation International
18-Feb-2002


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