I was pleased to see Sir Richard Branson making his case for bringing the lemurs to Mosquito Island.

However, pedant that I undoubtedly am, I noticed a few things in his submission and the accompanying press article worth commenting on.

Twice he states that “we were,” which seems to indicate the project is at least delayed, if not about to be cancelled. This is reportedly because some of the lemurs are pregnant (officials said). Lemurs are small mammals, so they have a short gestation period. This means that if the males and females are kept together — and it was reported that they have to be — then it is likely that one of the females will always be pregnant. The project can thus be delayed indefinitely without loss of face.

Effects on wildlife

To assess the wildlife effects, Sir Richard said, the lemurs are to be kept in enclosures and fed so that they do not have to forage. So how will the effect be measured? Will they starve the lemurs, then throw in a few geckos to see if they get eaten? If the lemurs do eat meat, and some of them do, then they will affect the wildlife on Mosquito Island.

The lemurs that were to have been brought in are coming from zoos, and are not poor, sick or abandoned creatures from the deforestation in Madagascar, which is how one normally saves endangered species. They were more than likely born in captivity. So if they are to be enclosed (which they must be used to), they are just being moved from one zoo to another. Why? Why not just say so? And if they breed and breed, how will the population be stabilised? By culling, by sterilisation, or by shipping the excess off to other zoos, which is probably what the source zoos are doing with this batch?

Zoo animals become conditioned to being fed, and can rarely be reintroduced into the wild.

By the way, Sir Richard, I am not travelling Virgin this year!

Other issues

I liked William Walker’s reasoned assessment of the likely costs of the proposed West End ferry terminal. They should employ him at the new incinerator! What new incinerator? Do I mean the one that was ordered seven years ago? Surely a reputable consultant or planner would have come up with the same figures for the ferry terminal to present to government?

Lovely royal wedding! Great pageantry! Why wouldn’t true full-blooded males shed a tear?


ADVERTISEMENT