Virgin boss under attack over invasive monkeys

| 18/04/2011

(The Telegraph): When Sir Richard Branson bought the £10m Caribbean island of Moskito in 2007 and pledged to turn it into a luxury ‘eco-resort’ he was widely applauded by conservationists. The Virgin tycoon said he had purchased the pristine island – part of the 60-strong British Virgin Islands (BVI) – to "protect" it and create "the most ecologically friendly island in the world". But now Sir Richard has been accused of threatening its fragile ecology by planning to import non-native lemurs to live there. Scientists say that lemurs are "opportunistic predators" that will threaten native species and are "totally unsuited" to the 120-acre island’s habitat.

They fear that the lemurs, which live in the wild only on Madagascar, will bring in disease, devour insects and birds’ eggs, destroy plants and wipe out the island’s "dwarf gecko" (Sphaerodactylus parthenopion), one of the world’s rarest lizards. Sir Richard has applied for – and been granted – permission to bring in about 30 ring-tailed lemurs, with the first group due to arrive in the next two or three weeks.
 

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