Association Mitsinjo was created in 1999 by the residents of Andasibe village in central Madagascar to cater to the growing number of tourists visiting the region. Now the association has more than 50 members who work for the conservation and sustainable development of the region.
What We Do
Association Mitsinjo works for the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable development of the Andasibe region (central Madagascar) and beyond. This involves managing the forest station at the Analamazoatra Special Reserve, a 1,172 hectare reserve near Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. Association Mitsinjo also works in the Torotorofotsy Ramsar site, in collaboration with Asity Madagascar who has managed this site since 2015. Torotorofotsy is one of the last intact mid-altitudinal marshes in the country.
How We Support Local Communities
As a community-based Malagasy conservation organization, all of our members are from the local community. To facilitate sustainable use of habitat, we have established long-term management contracts for two rainforest sites. Preservation of these areas—for both people and lemurs—form the core of our sustainability strategy.
Children planting rainforest trees.
We engage in a variety of social development and capacity building programs for local communities, including:
The construction of a primary school
Community-based monitoring of lemurs, birds, and frogs;
Promotion of ecotourism and novel agricultural techniques;
The establishment of a lemur research camp
What Lemur Species Do We Protect?
A Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus) being held by a researcher.
More than 11 species of lemurs are known to inhabit the two protected areas managed by Association Mitsinjo. The following species are the focus of several Association Mitsinjo programs:
Black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata)
Greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus)
Indri (Indri indri)
How Do We Protect Lemurs?
One of the Indri lemurs!
Association Mitsinjo has been managing the forest station at Analamazoatra Special Reserve since 2002 and has a contract to manage this program for another 20 years. Our goal is to preserve and restore 700 hectares of rainforest in this region into pristine lemur habitat.
As of the end of 2022, we have restored almost 500 hectares of forest using native trees. Logging and hunting using snares has almost stopped completely in this area. Occasionally, we work in areas managed by Madagascar National Parks on a contractual basis, when they need our expertise in forest restoration.
As a result, Indri populations have increased and the area has become a highlight for tourists visiting Madagascar.
IMPACT Madagascar, a Malagasy NGO, was born from the idea that it is not possible to protect the environment without also considering the people who depend on its resources on a daily basis. Since its foundation in 2013, IMPACT Madagascar has been working with local communities to alleviate poverty and provide achievable and sustainable environmental protection through a variety of projects focusing on community health and development, biodiversity conservation, and environmental outreach.
How does Impact Madagascar work for lemur conservation?
Because of the inherent connectedness between poverty and biodiversity use and the mutually self-reinforcing nature of these links, addressing rural poverty and environmental degradation requires a holistic multidisciplinary approach in order to achieve successful sustained results.
Our goal is to protect and conserve Madagascar’s unique biodiversity while improving the lives of its people. We implement permanent change through collaboration with local people, creating a foundation on which we can build a better world. Our integrative approach to biodiversity conservation and development is reflected in our range of projects, from ecological conservation to training and education, from recycling to construction.
Working with local people, we develop strategies that promote conservation within the parameters of daily life. Adding a sense of sustainability is crucial in order to help people living in harmony with nature for their life and for future generations.
Where do you work?
We focus our work on five project sites, in five different locations: Ankirihitra (region Boeny), Madiromirafy (region Betsiboka), Mahajeby (region Bongolava), Dabolava (region Menabe), and Vohitrarivo (region V7V). Each of these rural sites is unique in their biodiversity and communities, but across these locations, our projects hold similar objectives. These include reforestation and ecological restoration, lemur and habitat monitoring, environmental outreach and practical environmental education, community development, community health, and community conservation.
IMPACT Madagascar’s Activities
Our activities focused on forest restoration include large-scale community reforestation events. During these events, community members come together and plant native forest and fast-growing tree species in the area. The saplings that are planted are produced by the communities themselves in tree nurseries on site. This reforestation continues to be successful and improve each year. In 2019, we produced and planted approximately 241,000 seedlings for future use.
Lemur and Habitat Monitoring
Our lemur and habitat monitoring includes periodic inventories of diurnal and nocturnal lemur populations located at our project sites. These focus mostly on the critically endangered mongoose lemur and crowned sifaka (though the surveys are inclusive of all lemurs in the area).
For example, the Sifaka Conservation program aims to save the fragmented forests across the four locations (along the central highlands and northwestern areas), in order to protect crowned sifaka populations and the remaining rare dry and gallery forests. Additionally, our team identifies and monitors the pressures and the threats that menace these lemur populations as well as their habitats. With this identification at each site, we can develop better strategies to combat these harmful actions and to prevent future destruction.
Our conservation education projects constitute an important strategy to address threats to biodiversity and to ensure community participation and the sustainability of conservation actions. This environmental outreach includes awareness campaigns at both school and household levels. These include practical activities such as healthy living, water purification, waste management, and how to recycle various types of waste. Additionally, information sessions take place through multimedia presentations and focus on the fundamental roles of the forest, the causes of destruction and their impact on human life, biodiversity and conservation, environmental laws, the food web, wildlife, and its ecological role, and ecosystem services.
An important tool applied in our practical conservation education is the Pan African Conservation Education (PACE) resources; we are also the PACE representative for Madagascar.
Additionally, to help improve the living conditions of the local population in conservation areas, we have many community development projects that aim to promote income-generating activities within these communities.
We work with the local people in order to increase their farming yield and agricultural production by monitoring and providing practical training in the use of modern farming techniques and improved breeding programs, as well as promoting other alternative sources of income. In addition, we also encourage the production and sale of local produce to boost income within communities. As well as providing a more secure and sustainable future, this approach also helps by reducing the damage which current practices cause to biodiversity and forests.
Establishment and Support of VOIs
Last but not least, community conservation is a particularly important focus within all our projects at IMPACT Madagascar. At each of our conservation sites, we have established local management committees, called VOIs. These committees help to manage the forests and patrols are run by local people to monitor threats such as illegal logging and poaching, while simultaneously engaging local people in the protection of their forests.
Additionally, we work to provide community health initiatives to these rural communities and offer them resources and care they do not otherwise have access to. These activities vary across sites and include medical missions in collaboration with health organizations to provide treatment and medical care, sexual and reproductive health education, and raising awareness about the importance of hygiene and water purification.
All of our programs and project sites involve lemur conservation, so donations will always go towards lemur and environmental projects. Our programs dedicated specifically to lemurs are the Sifaka Conservation program and the bamboo lemur project in Vohitrarivo.
The main objective of Man and the Environment’s Net Positive Impact program is to ensure long-term forest and lemur conservation — and biodiversity conservation in general — through the involvement of local communities in management programs and economic activities in favor of the environment.
Net Positive Impact is a program of the Non-Governmental Organization Man and the Environment, a French organization that works in East and Northwest Madagascar.
What lemur species does Net Positive Impact protect?
Varecia Variegata from the Vohimana forest.
Net Positive Impact operates in three locations.
The Vohimana forest in the Mantadia – Zahamena:
Indri Indri from the Vohimana forest
The Tsaramandroso community forest in the buffer zone of the Ankarafantsika National Park:
The Ambalakalanoro forest in the north-west coast:
Propithecus verreauxi coquereli
Eulemur fulvus fulvus
Hapalemur griseus occidentalis
How does Net Positive Impact work for lemur conservation?
As lemurs cannot survive when their natural habitat is in danger, Net Positive Impact works for habitat preservation and environmental conservation in the Vohimana, in the Tsaramandroso and the Ambalakalanoro forests by developing environmental programs. Our main actions are to make these sites “protected areas” to ensure their survival. We also monitor species registration, study their long-term acclimatization and take actions to promote their development in the zone, like reforestation and agro-forestry.
An infrastructure to develop ecotourism has been constructed in the Vohimana Forest, in order to raise awareness of locals and visitors about the site’s biodiversity. Visitors are encouraged to participate in monitoring species.
Promote approaches targeting sustainable lemur conservation through the design of management plans including local communities’ development and private sector involvement.
Key Projects in Madagascar
The Vohimana Project
The main objective is protecting the forest and wildlife by giving local populations lasting sources of income based on a management plan ensuring sustainable agriculture and conservation areas.
Net Positive Impact believes that no sustainable and lasting wildlife-saving orientated project can be achieved if local communities remain impoverished, as practices endangering forests and wildlife are the ones that often make locals survive.
Thus, Net Positive Impact started a global program comprising forest and wildlife protection and local communities living conditions improvement.
The Vohimana protected area project started in 2002 with the signature of an agreement transferring the management responsibility of the forest from the government to the NGO Man and the Environment for a renewable period of 25 years. The first step was to define the management plan, design the area for conservation and sustainable development purposes, and organize income generating activities for local communities and social improvement.
Eulemur Rubriventer from the Vohimana forest
The Vohimana project has four principal steps:
1. Securing the Vohimana forest for long-term conservation.
In the 2000’s, the Vohimana forest almost disappeared because of fires and burn-and-slash agriculture. To preserve this fragile ecosystem, the lemurs and other species living in it, the first capital step was to secure the forest.
Man and the Environment was able to transform the Vohimana forest into a protected area in 2002, and it slowed down these dangerous practices. Research institutions (CIRAD) showed that forest cover loss was between 2002 and 2014 less important in Vohimana than the average in the national parks.
A local control forest committee has been organized with the aim to prevent traffic and fires.
A partnership has been made between biologists and universities, which allowed the beginning of an annual presence of scientists to launch a sustainable and regularly updated species’ population follow-up.
2. Ecotourism as a conservation tool.
The objective is to raise awareness about environment protection and to create a sustainable income source for the locals working on the project. Man and the Environment constructed an eco-shelter to welcome tourists and to secure the forest. In 2017, the infrastructure had been partly destructed by a cyclone.
A basic infrastructure has been built and welcomed visitors on site for many years. Incomes were managed by a local association ran by people from the area who are the beneficiaries as well as guides.
A students & volunteers program has been put in place to train students in species monitoring and agroforestry management. Their presence in remote areas of the forest discourages risks of potential trafficking.
The objective is to support environment-friendly agriculture to prevent slash-and-burn farming or other practices jeopardizing biodiversity. Net positive Impact started a program of ginger cultivation with 120 villagers around the forest. Likewise, a distillery of essential oil has been constructed and is managed by local workers. Ginger seeds have been given to selected farmers but follow-up training should be carried out. Malagasy firms will buy the production.
The former traditional practices were participating in the destruction of the forest. Slash-and-burn cultures, as well as charcoal production, are the most dangerous threats to the forest and the wildlife it shelters. Net Positive Impact managed to launch environmental-friendly agriculture practices. It is now clear that other incomes-generating activities linked to sustainable natural resources’ use could be promoted to support conservation.
4. Social support.
The incomes generated from visitors of the ecotourism infrastructure will be redistributed to the school and the health center the NGO Man and the Environment constructed in a village near Vohimana, Ambavaniasy. The objective is double. First, to contribute to improve the living conditions of the locals, enhance education access and reduce risks of disease. Second, the forest can be seen as a potential source of living conditions improvement, encouraging villagers to protect it and thus the species living in it.
A health center has been built on site and donors found to ensure the salary of the mid wife/nurse. – A primary school has been built on site to allow local access to education. 250 children can go
A local association has been supported to regroup farmers for eucalyptus firewood forest management (preventing natural forest charcoal production), forestry seedlings production, ecotourism management, forestry control organization and essential oil production.
The Ambalakalanoro project
This projects aims to secure the Ambalakalanoro forest for long term conservation, in order to prevent possible fires or cuts in the forest and allow tourists to visit the site. The Ambalakalanoro forest is now the last shelter of those animals that managed to escape the recurrent fires. Its size is reduced to only 65 hectares, and therefore can be compared more to a private park with exceptional fauna and flora than to a state protected area. The Ambalakalanoro project was launched in 2010.
The natural circus surrounding the forest and protecting the area has been secured.
Rare species have been observed, including the fossa, confirming the great biological interest of this tiny remaining forest.
Due to the loss of its habitat, the wildlife has no choice but to find shelter in this forest. As a result, the number of lemurs has increased: 66 sifakas now live in the forest.
Propithecus verreauxi coquereli from the Tsaramandroso and Ambalakalanoro forests
The Tsaramandroso project
The forest is located near Ankarafantsika national park. It is under great pressure of deforestation, jeopardizing the wildlife it shelters. The goal of the project is to secure the forest and its wildlife by supporting local communities in preventing slash-and-burn farming or other practices jeopardizing biodiversity. The project was launched in 2015. To do so, Net Positive Impact started a program of a sustainable collection of Saro leaves on site and other aromatic plants. Net Positive Impact also constructed a distillery of essential oils, managed by local farmers.
The distillery employs 12 people. Farmers are motivated to prevent slash-and-burn agriculture and outsiders coming into the forest to over-harvest it.
Community Partnerships and Sustainability
Net Positive Impact partners with local organizations to ensure projects’ sustainability and local involvement.
For the Vohimana project, the local partners are different local associations, Mercie Vohimana, Manarapenitra, Zanatany, each specialized in a field.
For the Ambalakalanoro project, the local partner is the local district.
For the Tsaramandroso project, the local partners are VOI Mamelonarivo and CIRAD.
Donations Are Needed to Support These Projects in Madagascar
Donations are need to secure the Vohimana forest for long-term conservation.
Transforming the 25 years management plan agreement into a purchase of a 99-year lease of the forest. Estimated budget to buy the 560 hectares of forest: 250 000€
Recently, the government of Madagascar decided to sell the forest and the neighboring lands. The sale will happen at the expense of the local populations, despite their involvement in developing agro-forestry cultures respecting a long-term forest conservation plan. As a result, the risk is that individuals or companies will be able to legally destroy the forest or adopt environmentally destructive activities. Moreover, farmers will lose their lands and those who until now were using sustainable agriculture methods protecting the forest will have no choice but to go back to environment-damaging methods, as slash-and-burn culture. A solution is that Man and the Environment finances the purchase of the forest by obtaining a long-term lease of 99-year between the NGO and the State of Madagascar. Thus, the NGO would ensure the protection of the forest and its species.
Equipment of the forest patrols. Estimated budget: 5 000€
The patrols cannot be efficient in preventing fires and wood trafficking if the proper equipment is lacking.
Employing one biologist and logistician on the field to organize the stays of biologists and the lemurs, frogs, rare plants (and other species) follow-up. Estimated budget: 10 000€
Net positive Impact organizes lemur population monitoring. The objective is to achieve a serious database on the evolution of these populations and raise awareness of visitors, who are invited to participate in the data collection.
Securing the land for sustainable agroforestry farming and ensuring training of local farmers. Estimated budget: 100 000€ The neighboring lands will be sold by the Malagasy government. The risk is that lands may be bought by individuals or firms that do not respect the environment and endanger the wildlife. The NGO can buy the lands and redistribute them to local farmers which agreed to an environment-friendly agriculture.
Ecotourism as a conservation tool.
Improve ecotourism infrastructure. Estimated budget: 56 000€ Due to the cyclone, the ecotourism infrastructure cannot be functional. To be able to welcome visitors again and generate income, the infrastructure needs to be rebuilt.
Sustainable agriculture productivity improvement. Estimated budge: 8 000€ Ginger production has been promoted, offering great opportunities to local farmers. Different plants of economic interest have been identified and are now promoted. Local farmers will be trained in improved sustainable practices.
Continue production and training for essential oils. Estimated budget: 15 000€ A first production unit of essential oil has been provided and local community trained to process local plants for which sustainable markets have been found. Leaves from the forest are being sustainably used for production. Two new stills will be added to increase the production of essential oil, following demand.
Training in sustainable agriculture. Estimated budget: 4 000€ Training sessions have been started to promote sustainable agriculture in place of slash-and-burn agriculture and farmers started to show interest for more training. Man and the Environment technicians will provide more training sessions on sustainable agriculture.
Social support. Estimated budget: 3000€ For the health center to become functional, a mid-wife and a nurse need to be employed full-time and health supplies need to be bought, before the added value from the essential oil production allows paying these costs.
Education. Estimated budget: 20 000€ The villagers approved the primary school the NGO constructed, and now ask for four classrooms for kids from 11 to 15 years old.
Training in Management and Accounting. Estimated budget: 3000€ The local association is functioning but needs to be trained in management and accounting.
Training in Medicinal Plants. Estimated budget: 8 000€ Promotion of a proper use of safe and efficient local medicinal plants.
The Ambalakalanoro Project
Secure Forest. Estimated budget: 70 000€
It is important to secure the forest and its surroundings to ensure conservation by obtaining a long-term lease of 99 years for the forest itself.
Research. Estimated budget: 10 000€
Organize studies of fauna, its long-term acclimatization and understand the actions necessary to promote its development in the zone.
Raise Awareness. Estimated budget: 5 000€
Communicate about the site in order to draw national and international interest to conservation.
Promote Ecotourism. Estimated budget: 5 000€
Promote hotel facilities development on the surrounding areas, companies that will have long-term interest to preserve an appealing environment for patrons and to involve local population in environmental protection.
The Tsaramandroso Project
Distillery. Estimated budget: 10 000€ Install a new professional distillery on site.
Medicine Plants. Estimated budget: 5 000€
Identify and standardize medicinal and aromatic plants of immediate commercial interest for local populations.
Net Positive Impact accepts online donations on its website.
MATE can ensure that donations from the Lemur Conservation Network go directly to lemur and environmental programs.
The Institute of Zoology at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover protects lemurs through on-the-ground research, capacity building, and captive management.
Supporting lemur conservation with long-term research programs and capacity building.
Eulemur fulvus, Ankarafantsika National Park (photo: E. Zimmermann)
The Institute of Zoology in Hannover undertakes cutting edge research on lemurs both inside and outside Madagascar. One of their major aims is to increase understanding of how nocturnal lemurs have adapted and evolved in the in their respective environments.
In particular, the Institute studies the patterns, evolution, and consequences of differences between species in their behavior, bioacoustics, ecology, and susceptibility for diseases. Combining this knowledge with an understanding of how habitat needs and habitat fragmentation impact the genetic diversity of populations,it is possible to evaluate the changes for long-term survival of these populations.
The working group “Lemur conservation Biology” from the Institute of Zoology has worked in the Ankarafantsika National Park (135,000 ha park) since 1995 and in the Mariarano forest since 2003. The Ankarafantsika National Park comprises the largest remaining patch of continuous dry deciduous forest in northwestern Madagascar and is therefore of utmost importance for the preservation of the remaining biodiversity.
What lemurs does the Institute of Zoology protect?
In the Ankarafantsika National Park, the institute’s work impacts:
Golden-brown mouse lemurs (Microcebus ravelobensis), described by the Institute in 1998
Mongoose lemurs (Eulemur mongoz)
Grey mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus)
Fat-tailed dwarf lemurs (Cheirogaleus medius)
Brown lemurs (Eulemur fulvus)
The organizations undertakes several projects, described below.
Conservation biology and environmental flexibility of lemurs in the Ankarafantsika National Park and the Mariarano forest (Project code: LemCon2)
Microcebus ravelobensis, Ankarafantsika National Park (photo: E. Zimmermann)
This long-term program, which has been ongoing since 2003, takes place in the Ankarafantsika National Park and the Mariarano forest. This mosaic of habitat types offers many different ecological niches for lemurs and other forest dwelling organisms. Knowledge of how lemurs survive in these different niches is still in its infancy, but urgently needed for conservation management. This project investigates the biology of these animals live in these habitat types, including their vulnerability towards diseases. This knowledge will help us understand the environmental flexibility of species, how events such as climate change affect lemurs’ life history and long-term survival, and provide data for the long-term conservation management of lemurs in northwestern Madagascar.
Effective lemur conservation in the Sofia Region (Project code: LemCon3)
Pending funding, this project will take place in the Anjiamangirana forest and the Marosely forest (northwestern Madagascar). Both areas are fairly fragmented but are important habitat for the many lemur species. The main threats to lemurs in these areas are hunting, charcoal production, and fires. Both areas give home to five to six lemur species, with mouse lemur and sportive lemur species differing between the sites. The species include:
Lepilemur edwardsi, Ankarafantsika National Park (photo: E. Zimmermann)
The Institute proposes to undertake five different actions to help protect these lemurs species at these sites:
Facilitating existing local conservation projects;
Long-term monitoring and research to
identify the needs of local communities and determine where they overlap with conservation needs, work with migrant communities, and promote animals who naturally reforest areas (e.g., bats, lemurs, birds);
Undertake educational exchanges for two-way communication and knowledge transfer, and train locals in sustainable agricultural techniques;
Mitigate habitat threats through fire prevention and control, promotion of alternative cooking fuels, and by supporting forest patrols.
Long-term natural resource management and local development by implementing the Madagascar Bushmeat Strategy, building and maintaining tree nurseries, identifying optimal reforestation areas, and creating/supporting civil organizations that focus on environmental justice.
Phylogeography and conservation genetics of nocturnal lemurs (Project code: LemCon4)
Since 2000, this project aims to understand the population structure of different lemur species across their habitat ranges in view of how drastically anthropogenic disturbances have impacted forests.
Effective conservation requires detailed knowledge on how many individuals remain in the wild, the distribution of species, threats to their survival, and the degree to which individuals within a species differ (e.g., genetically). This project studies genetic differentiation in order to develop effective conservation measures and formulate long-term management plans.
In addition to their work in the field, the Institute of Zoology also leads the ex situ management of Goodman’s mouse lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara), and keep one of only two breeding colonies worldwide for this species.
Partnering with local communities
Land use and forest corridors at the border of Ankarafantsika National Park (photo: U. Radespiel)
Species and habitat conservation cannot be achieved without involving the local Malagasy community resulting in their active participation in decision-making processes. As a prerequisite, any conservation initiative must therefore aim to strengthen local knowledge and to raise responsibility for the unique biodiversity of Madagascar.
Since 1995, the Institute of Zoology has established a series of collaboration contracts with Malagasy authorities including the University of Antananarivo (Department of Zoology), the University of Mahajanga (Biology Department), and Madagascar National Parks (MNP). These are key to the long-term success of the programs and to build capacity in Madagascar for lemur conservation.
Specifically, the Institute aims to:
jointly perform research projects and publish scientific results with Malagasy collaborators;
improve access of Malagasy partners to scientific results from the international research community;
provide institutional support for Malagasy universities and collaborators;
increase scientific networking with Malagasy colleagues;
support and mentor Malagasy students, postdocs, and researchers; and
contribute to local capacity building of students and local field assistants.
Conservation Management of lemurs in the Ankarafantsika National Park (Project Code: LemCon1)
Village at southern border of Ankarafantsika National Park (photo: U. Radespiel)
Pending funding, this program will take place in the Ankarafantsika National Park (northwestern Madagascar). Wildlife in the National Park is continuously threatened by bushfires, deforestation, the presence of cattle and human settlements in the forest, charcoal production, and hunting activities. There are, however, central park headquarters and 12 decentralized base camps that aim to limit use of the forest within park boundaries. However, this management system is not yet very effective and needs much improvement. In order to protect the unique and fragile forest mosaic habitats of the Ankarafantsika National Park and its threatened lemurs, a number of conservation actions need to be taken immediately in collaboration with Madagascar National Parks and the Park Administration:
Survey work utilizing the existing forest wardens and additional, temporary base camps;
Train park wardens/forest agents to undertake biodiversity assessments and data processing;
Establish a long-term database and communication network for transmitting and continuously evaluating the monitoring activities at each base camp and across the park;
Build a conservation education program to teachers so that they can better deliver conservation lessons to their students.
Hold regular meetings with the leaders of all villages around the park, discussing the needs of the local human population, and updating people about ongoing and future conservation work in their areas. Educational materials such as booklets, poster, comics and T-shirts will be produced and distributed among villagers.
Supporting lemur conservation in northwest Madagascar through focused outreach and education programming.
Planet Madagascar undertakes lemur conservation efforts in and around the Ankarafantsika National Park, in northwestern Madagascar. They primarily work in three communities consisting of 488 people (2014): Ambarindahy (316 people), Maevatanimbary (65 people), and Andranohobaka (107 people).
The organization very purposefully implements one project at a time, at a relatively small scale, so that they can work with the three communities on an ongoing basis. Over the next few years, Planet Madagascar will focus on conservation education, fire management, and community livelihoods programs.
In the future, they plans to grow as funding allows, and eventually expand outside of the three communities. They work hard to seek funding through grants and private donations.
What lemurs does Planet Madagascar protect?
Planet Madagascar’s work in and around the Ankarafantsika National Park in northwestern Madagascar currently impacts the following lemur species:
How is Planet Madagascar protecting habitat for lemur conservation?
Planet Madagascar staff.
Over the coming years, Planet Madagascar will work with local community members, including national park staff, to find and implement realistic solutions to bush fires, one of the major threats affecting lemurs in the park. Local residents burn grasses near forest to improve grazing zones for cattle, but fires also accidentally burn forest.
Planet Madagascar will work with the community to implement a fire management strategy while contributing to improving the livelihood of people living in the communities. This strategy will provide employment for local residents and also mitigate fire risk for lemurs and their habitat.
We work to cultivate and plant new trees in Ankarafantsika National Park. We focus on two types of restoration, restoring fragmented landscapes to create corridors that connect existing fragments to continuous forest and erosion control through forest restoration where we plant trees to reduce the impact of erosion. We hire and train local community members to work with our on-the-ground Planet Madagascar staff members to identify target plant species, collect seeds, build and manage tree nurseries, and plant seedlings. Community members benefit through a salary-based program, thereby providing them with much-needed revenue and by receiving the direct benefits of erosion control through forest restoration.
Partnering with local communities
Local people are involved at all stages of Planet Madagascar’s projects, as one of the goals of the organization is to develop capacity in Madagascar. Before implementing any project, Planet Madagascar holds stakeholder meetings with community members to facilitate open discussion about the challenges faced by conservation efforts, and to brainstorm collaborative solutions and action plans. Then, while programs are being implemented, they ensure that relevant members of the community are trained to manage and continue the programs. Finally, Planet Madagascar always endeavors to provide local communities with the tools they need to continue the work and educate themselves about the importance of the conservation projects.
In September 2014, Planet Madagascar completed a livelihoods survey, speaking with 213 community members in their three target communities. Preliminary results revealed that over 70% of the people did not have knowledge of the different lemur species in their region, and few people were aware of the benefits that lemurs provide to forest ecosystems. For example, in one village, only 8% of people were aware that lemurs disperse seeds. We found that people’s livelihoods depend on the national park and its resources. For example approximately 70% of the respondents stated that their livelihoods depend mostly from the park for food, water, and economic activities.
These results underline the importance of implementing education and development programs in these communities and will serve as a baseline dataset that allows Planet Madagascar to measure the impact of their future projects and education initiatives, detailed below, on local knowledge and attitudes.
Conservation Education: Lambas for Lemurs
Planet Madagascar’s first conservation education project, Lambas for Lemurs, was funded by Primate Conservation, Inc. and the Rufford Foundation and began in April 2015. Our goal is to raise awareness about lemurs, including:
why they are so unique,
their role in the survival of the whole ecosystem,
why lemur survival is linked to the survival of humans in the area, and
to foster a sense of pride in local communities for the lemurs of the region.
To implement this program, Planet Madagascar created an education toolkit that consists of guidelines and activities for adult leader training sessions, children’s educational programming, and adult educational programming. To reinforce the conservation message, we printed lambas, local clothes similar to a sarong, and gave them to some participants. Lambas are traditionally a culturally relevant medium of knowledge transfer. On each lamba we printed a scene depicting lemurs living in forest alongside people, and a message that states in the local dialect of Malagasy that “a healthy forest has lemurs.”
Along with renowned wildlife filmmaker, Chris Scarffe, Planet Madagascar has gathered footage that will be used to produce an educational documentary, aimed at a Malagasy audience. This film will highlight issues related to human-wildlife interactions in Madagascar and will illustrate why a healthy ecosystem is beneficial to both humans and nature. Ankarafantsika National Park will be used as case study in the film. This film will facilitate dialogue in the local communities in a way that helps people understand how their actions have direct impacts on the surrounding wildlife and ultimately on their own livelihoods.
The Lemur Conservation Foundation helps conserve lemurs through managed breeding programs, outreach, and on-the-ground conservation.
Saving lemurs through managed breeding programs, educational outreach, and on-the-ground conservation efforts.
Critically endangered mongoose lemur born at LCF in 2014.
The Lemur Conservation Foundation (LCF) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the primates of Madagascar through managed breeding, scientific research, and education. The foundation and accompanying lemur reserve focus on fostering natural lemur behavior to encourage a dynamic population.
LCF supports educational programs started by the late Dr. Alison Jolly in Madagascar and is developing content to bring those programs to classrooms in the United States. In addition, LCF provides financial support to assist in the establishment of a tourist and research camp in Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve in northeast Madagascar, home to the elusive silky sifaka and a unique population of indri with black pelage.
What lemurs does the Lemur Conservation Foundation protect?
At their reserve in Florida, the Lemur Conservation Foundation is home to over 45 lemurs of six different species, most of which are critically endangered or endangered. LCF is a Certified Related Facility with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and participates in their Species Survival Plans which work to maintain a genetic safety net for a variety of lemur species. The species currently housed at the reserve are:
Collared lemurs (Eulemur collaris)
Mongoose lemur (Eulemur mongoz)
Sanford’s lemur (Eulemur sanfordi)
Common brown lemurs (Eulemur fulvus)
Red ruffed lemurs (Varecia rubra)
Ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta)
How is the Lemur Conservation Foundation protecting habitat for lemur conservation?
Demarcation signs funded by LCF to outline the boundary of the Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve.
Lemur Conservation Foundation is supporting projects in Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve (ASSR), a large mountainous rainforest in northeastern Madagascar, which has long been recognized as a lemur priority site that has received little attention. LCF has partnered with the Madagascar National Parks to provide boundary demarcations for this protected area and is working towards developing a site called Camp Indri into a functioning base camp for tourists and researchers. At least 11 lemur species are found here including:
LCF also collaborates with École Normale Supérieure (ENS), the teachers’ training arm of the University of Antananarivo. This partnership supports the students of ENS in their field research and field work theses at the Berenty Reserve, a private wildlife reserve in southern Madagascar. Research done at Berenty includes lemur census surveys and plant phenology.
Helping lemurs in captivity
A family of Lemur catta in one of LCF’s semi free-ranging forests, where field students can observe lemurs in a natural environment.
The Lemur Conservation Foundation operates a 100 acre reserve in Myakka City, Florida. The reserve is set up with two semi free-ranging forests, each approximately ten acres, and two traditional enclosure buildings. As a Certified Related Facility with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, LCF participates in the Eulemur Species Survival Plan (SSP), Ruffed Lemur SSP, and Ring-tailed Lemur SSP, which include a global network of institutions working towards the propagation of selected lemur species in order to ensure the healthy existence of those species whose survival is in peril.
LCF also hosts field training programs, in which professors and their students utilize the facility and the lemur colony for behavioral observations and research on social dynamics and cognitive skills, as well as habitat use and food selection. These training programs produce future primatologists and conservation biologists which will carry the conservation imperative forward for lemurs and other endangered species and fostering and inspiring conservation based careers is an invaluable part of LCF’s mission.
Partnering with local communities
The first book in the Ako Project series, Ako the Aye-Aye.
LCF has the pleasure of continuing on Dr. Alison Jolly’s legacy with the Ako Project, in collaboration with Dr. Hanta Rasamimanana, Dr. Jolly’s former colleague, professor at ENS, and Madagascar’s “Lemur Lady”. The Ako Project, sponsored by EnviroKidz, is an educational children’s book series, translated in both English and Malagasy, which is intended to teach Malagasy children about different species of lemur in a fun, tangible way. The books come with matching curriculum to help teachers convey the conservation themes and concepts envisioned for the stories.
Human Development League unleashes human potential through the power of sports, technology, education, and conservation in northwest Madagascar.
Supporting lemur conservation using sports and technology
The Human Development League is a US-based non-profit organization that unleashes human potential using sports, technology, education, and conservation.
The organization, which currently works in northwest Madagascar in the area surrounding the Ankarafantsika National Park, has a two-part mission: 1) teach life skills and character development to young and underprivileged people all over the world through amateur sports instruction and competition; and 2) promote the benefits of, and provide financial support for, education and job skills training.
Partnering with local communities
Using basketball to teach conservation
The Human Development League uses basketball to engage local Malagasy communities and and teach young people how to conserve the lemurs and natural resources for future generations while making a sustainable living. Specifically, they will be working with young people in the villages in and around Ankarafantsika National Park (northwest Madagascar) using basketball-based activities to engage the local community, teach lemur conservation, and provide opportunities for training in ecotourism and sustainable revenue-generating activities.
In this effort, the Human Development League partners with the local basketball association in Andranofasika – the town at the East entrance of Ankarafantsika National Park – to help engage the local community and give them ownership of the project and decision-making authority from planning to implementation. In addition, they plan to work closely with the local mayor’s office, the Madagascar National Parks (MNP) park director, and other stakeholders.
Finally, they will be working closely on this project with Planet Madagascar, an organization that has worked closely with and built trust with members of the community in towns and villages in and around the park over a number of years.
The Reniala NGO works to rehabilitate lemurs from the illegal pet trade in southwest Madagascar.
Supporting lemur conservation through habitat protecting and captive lemur rehabilitation
The Reniala NGO aims to protect the forests of the Reniala reserve, rehabilitate lemurs from the bushmeat and pet trade at the Lemur Rescue Center, and develop alternative livelihood projects such as beekeeping.
What lemur species does the Reniala NGO protect?
The Reniala NGO protects several species of lemur through their activities, including ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta).
Through their work, the organization facilitates research programs on ring-tailed lemurs including researchers from the United States and from within Madagascar. Research projects include nocturnal lemur monitoring through camera traps as well as many projects examining lemur behavior, feeding, and health, as well as social science studies on the attitudes of local communities towards wildlife.
How does the Reniala NGO protect habitat for lemur conservation?
The Reniala NGO manages a 6 km-squared protected area of dry spiny forest, located 29 km north of Toliara, a larger city in southwest Madagascar.
Helping lemurs in captivity
The Lemur Rescue Center (LRC) – which is one of the Reniala NGO’s projects – houses 25 individual ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) which were confiscated as part of the illegal pet and bushmeat trades in Madagascar. This project aims to care for, rehabilitate, and eventually release these lemurs back into the wild. It is hoped that the lemurs will be reintroduced into the Reniala Reserve, which is a forest that is managed by the organization. In addition, the organization anticipates it will play a larger role in the rehabilitation and transport of lemurs across Madagascar in the next few years.
Rehabilitation and reintroduction of lemurs into the wild is not an easy process; the Reniala NGO is one of the few facilities in Madagascar that is authorized to undertake this work. Ring-tailed lemurs – like any other lemur species – are difficult to reintroduce into the wild. Therefore, animals that cannot be released – such as those that have lost the ability to forage for food – will be cared for at the center for the duration of their lives.
Given the scale of the pet and bushmeat trade in Madagascar, there are always more lemurs waiting to be rehabilitated than the facility can hold. Therefore, efforts are underway to increase the capacity of the Rescue Center over the next few years.