British conservationists are reporting success in helping to halt the slow slide towards extinction of lemurs in Madagascar.

The Aspinall Foundation has been working for the past three years to protect the endangered animals and their habitat with communities on the Indian Ocean island.

The Kent-based charity has now reported the recent birth of 20 greater bamboo lemurs in the Andriantantely lowland rainforest in eastern Madagascar.

The threatened rainforest contains four of the most critically-endangered species of lemur which are found nowhere else outside of the last Malagasy rainforests.

The births bring the total number of the animals there to just over 100, doubling the local population in the three years since the Aspinall Foundation started working there.

Foundation chairman Damian Aspinall said: "Our local teams are passionate about saving the Andriantantely forest. We will do all we can to help them. The survival of four critically-endangered lemur populations depends upon it."

Tony King, the foundation's conservation co-ordinator, said: "Almost everything in Madagascar is unique to Madagascar, and sadly almost everything in Madagascar is under threat.

"Lowland rainforest has already been completely lost, so every remaining fragment is precious. Andriantantely is one of the most precious."