Endangered lemurs could be connected to Gibson raid | News
Wednesday’s raids at Gibson Guitar’s factories in Memphis and Nashville could be connected to the demise of a rare animal nearly 10,000 miles away.
Few details were released about the raid, which was carried about by agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. However, allegations that the famous guitar maker uses illegally harvested wood have been flying since a similar raid was conducted at its Nashville facility in 2009.
According to the Associated Press the company issued a statement in 2009 that said it was “fully cooperating with agents of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as it pertains to an issue with harvested wood.”
The 2009 raid was carried out because federal investigators believed some of the company's guitar parts were made from wood that was illegally cut and shipped from Madagascar.
Madagascar, one of the world’s largest islands, is located off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Because of its isolation, the vast majority of its plant and animal species are found nowhere else in the world.
Madagascar is home to at least 60 different types of lemurs, but one particular lemur, the silky sifaka, could be connected to Gibson Guitars.
Experts say there are probably only a few hundred adult silkies in the wild and none have ever successfully been kept in captivity. Scientists say the silky sifaka is one of the most endangered species on Earth. The three-foot-long animals live in a narrow region in Madagascar and have the unfortunate luck to share their habitat with species of endangered ebony and rosewood that are illegally harvested.
Experts say that destruction of their habitat is one of the reasons the lemurs are disappearing.
And that’s where the investigation allegedly leads to Gibson Guitars.
According to reports from 2009, the federal investigation was looking at possible violations of a U.S. environmental law that essentially forbids the importing of endangered wood.
So far, no arrests have been made during the investigation and Gibson has joined Greenpeace and other guitar manufacturers to change how wood for musical instruments is harvested.
Gibson issued a statement late Thursday afternoon claiming that Wednesday's raids centered around rare wood imported from India. However, federal investigators haven't substantiated that claim.