Lemur (Remix)

Beatboxing with prosimians—for conservation.

June 03, 2015

Ben Mirin’s YouTube channel, The Birds and the Beats, is filled with samples of his “birdboxing” (as in making music from bird songs and human beatbox, not avian TKOs). The lifelong birder and nationally ranked beatboxer is no stranger to jamming with wildlife. So when primatologist Patricia Wright heard what Mirin was up to, she wanted to get the vocalizations of her own study subjects into the mix. This National Geographic video tells the story of how the two transformed a library of lemur recordings from Wright’s years of fieldwork in Madagascar into a weirdly wonderful—and pretty darn catchy—musical medley.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, lemurs are the most endangered mammal group in the world. As of 2013, 24 of 103 lemur species are critically endangered, 49 are endangered, and 20 are vulnerable. These sobering stats are what inspire Mirin to collaborate with the chatty primates. “In some ways, it’s wonderful to be able to preserve things through audio,” he says. “But in my mind, it’s pointless if it doesn’t inspire protection of the animal itself.”

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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