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Biodiversity Conservation Madagascar

Biodiversity Conservation MadagascarBiodiversity Conservation Madagascar protects habitat and provides employment to local communities to help save lemurs across Madagascar.

Protecting Madagascar’s biodiversity and improving the livelihoods of local communities

Biodiversity Conservation MadagascarBiodiversity Conservation Madagascar (BCM) was established in 2002 as the conservation arm of Bioculture (Mauritius) Ltd., a for-profit company that provides most of its funding. BCM’s main goals are to conserve threatened forests in east and west Madagascar that are of high biodiversity value, especially those rich in lemur species. BCM currently works in the 2,400 hectare lowland rainforest in Sahafina (east Madagascar) and the Beanka dry deciduous forest in the Maintirano region (west Madagascar).

What lemur species does BCM protect?

BCM works in both east (Sahafina, near Brickaville) and west (Maintirano region) Madagascar. In the Benka conservation site, the program works to protect the following species:

  • Bemaraha woolly lemur (Avahi cleesei)
  • Fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius)
  • Dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus sp.)
  • Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
  • Red-fronted lemur (Eulemur rufus)
  • Eastern lesser bamboo lemur (Hapalemur griseus)
  • Randrianasolo’s sportive lemur (Lepilemur cf. randrianasoli)
  • Pygmy mouse lemur (Microcebus myoxinus)
  • Giant mouse lemur (Mirza sp.)
  • Pale fork-marked lemur (Phaner pallescens)
  • Decken’s sifaka (Propithecus deckenii)

In their Sahafina project site, they protect:

  • Eastern woolly lemur (Avahi laniger)
  • Greater dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus major)
  • Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
  • Red-bellied lemur (Eulemur rubriventer)
  • Eastern lesser bamboo lemur (Hapalemur griseus)
  • Indri (Indri indri)
  • Brown mouse lemur (Microcebus rufus)

How does BCM protect lemur habitat?

Biodiversity Conservation MadagascarBCM manages the conservation of two forests on behalf of the Malagasy government through “Conservation Leases.” Since 2003, BCM has been responsible for the protection of 2,400 hectares of humid low altitudinal forest in eastern Madagascar. In 2007, BCM started managing a second site—the Beanka New Protected Area in Western Madagascar. This 17,000 hectare forest is of significant ecological value and harbors a rich diversity of plants and animals. BCM is currently working to secure long-term protection of these two sites.

Through the establishment of a forest guard, BCM aims to reduce lemur and large mammal hunting at their study sites by 100% in ten years.

Partnering with local communities

One of BCM’s primary approaches to forest protection includes the use of conservation payments to local communities. This program ensures that communities receive direct material benefits in exchange for supporting ongoing conservation projects. For example, BCM employs 35 plant-nursery attendants, forest guards, and local site managers.

Biodiversity Conservation Madagascar also implements the following programs in partnership with local communities:

Biodiversity Conservation Madagascar IndigenousPlantNurseryBeankaEucalyptus and fruit tree plantations

To alleviate pressures on the forest, BCM manages the growing and planting of Eucalyptus trees, which provide a good source of fuel and construction materials for local communities. Eucalyptus trees—due to their ability to grow quickly and without a lot of water—are an ideal replacement for the precious and slow-growing hardwood trees that have been traditionally cut down by Malagasy communities.

BCM has also helped plant fruit trees in local villages to provide a secondary source of food and income to the local people.

Biodiversity Conservation Madagascar WaterWellBeankaWater wells

BCM has provided the materials for local communities to build four water wells. This is of considerable importance as it helps assure a continuous water supply for the local community.

Agricultural training

BCM has trained local communities on how to effectively grow vegetables and to improve their rice growing techniques.

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Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (American Friends of Durrell)

Durrell Conservation AFD

The American Friends of Durrell fund habitat protection and capacity building programs in Madagascar.

Supporting lemur conservation by supporting the work of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT)

Durrell Conservation Lee Durrell releasing ploughshare tortoises in 2011

Lee Durrell releasing ploughshare tortoises in 2011.

American Friends of Durrell promotes and supports the work of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT), a British wildlife charity established in 1963 by author and conservationist, Gerald Durrell. DWCT’s mission is to save species from extinction.

In Madagascar, the DWCT has been undertaking conservation actions for species and habitats since 1983. It has pioneered efforts for breeding and release-to-the wild of critically endangered species, for protecting vulnerable habitats and for enabling and empowering local communities to manage their natural environments sustainably. DWCT’s Madagascar Program employs approximately 30 people, mostly Malagasy nationals, and operates at eight sites. Lemurs are flagship species for two of the sites where the DWCT works: the Alaotran gentle lemur at Lac Alaotra and the black and white ruffed lemur at Manombo.

The American Friends of Durrell currently contribute to two of DWCT’s projects: (1) the Alison Jolly Madagascar Scholarship; and (2) the Madagascar Program Management and Coordination fund, which essentially covers the core costs of DWCT’s work in Madagascar. In the future, the American Friends of Durrell will likely increase their funding of the organization’s programs, especially as it relates to lemur conservation.

What lemurs does the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust protect?

Durrell Conservation Alaotran gentle lemurs

Alaotran gentle lemurs.

Lemurs are flagship species for two of the sites where the DWCT works: the Alaotran gentle lemur at Lac Alaotra (east Madagascar) and the black and white ruffed lemur at Manombo (southeast Madagascar).

How is the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust protecting habitat for lemur conservation?

Thanks to the help of the American Friends of Durrell, the DWCT in Madagascar has been able to achieve several landmark moments in lemur conservation. Notable successes include the establishment of a Ramsar Site for Lac Alaotra (east Madagascar) and a National Park at Baly Bay (west Madagascar).

Durrell Conservation Black and white ruffed lemur

Black-and-white ruffed lemur.

Partnering with local communities

DWCT pioneered its approach to partnering with local communities in the early 1990s on the project to save the ploughshare tortoise of Madagascar. It was inspired and led by the late Lala Jean Rakotoniaina, who became DWCT’s Community Conservation Coordinator and a Disney Conservation Hero. Now all of DWCT’s work in Madagascar – and elsewhere in the world – is modeled on this approach, with local communities participating in management actions and ultimately taking on decisions concerning their natural resources. The empowerment of local communities helps increase the sustainability of programming, and therefore the viability of species and target habitats.

Capacity building

The American Friends of Durrell fund the Alison Jolly Madagascar Scholarship. This scholarship allows a student to attend the post-graduate diploma course offered by DWCT at their Durrell Conservation Academy in Mauritius. The Durrell Conservation Academy has trained nearly 4,000 people from 139 countries in biodiversity conservation.

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Mikajy Natiora

Mikajy Natiora logo

Mikajy Natiora combines research and community outreach to save lemurs in northwest Madagascar.

Supporting lemur conservation through research and community outreach

Outreach Mikajy Natiora

Mikajy Natiora undertaking outreach in a local school.

Mikajy Natiora protects Madagascar’s endemic biodiversity by combining ecological research and local community involvement; they currently focus their work on northwest Madagascar in the region surrounding the Sahamalaza Iles Radama National Park. Evidence of the importance of this young organization’s work can be found in the fact that it has been funded by over a half-dozen prestigious foundations including the Van Tienhoven Foundation for International Nature Protection, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, and the Rufford Foundation.

What lemur species does Mikajy Natiora protect?

Carnival Mikajy Natiora

Mikajy Natiora participating in a local environmentally-themed carnival.

A large focus of Mikajy Natiora’s work is to conduct research and maintain updated information about endangered lemur populations at their study site in northwest Madagascar. One of these species includes the Blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons) – the only primate in the world with blue eyes – which is estimated to go extinct in 11 years unless drastic measures are taken to conserve the species. In addition, Mikajy Natiora collects information about the:

  • Sahamalaza sportive lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis; less than 100 individuals remaining)
  • Sambirano mouse lemur (Microcebus sambiranensis; new population discovered by Mikajy Natiora)
  • Fork marked dwarf lemur (Phaner furcifer)
  • Western gentle lemur (Hapalemur griseus occidentalis)

Partnering with local communities

Mikajy Natiora always informs local communities when they are going to conduct activities in the vicinity by using public meetings to explain the objectives of their work. In addition, the organization undertakes several education and outreach programs to supplement their research-based approach.

Mikajy Natiora

Mikajy Natiora staff!

Education, outreach, and training

Mikajy Natiora has been conducting regular education and outreach programs on the lemurs of the Sahamalaza-Iles Radama National Park since 2013. The objectives of this outreach are to increase the local communities’ awareness about the need and the importance of the conservation of the lemurs and its forest habitat.

In addition, Mikajy Natiora trains park rangers and local stakeholders to increase their knowledge about biodiversity and their skills in managing and interacting with the local ecosystem sustainably.

Providing alternative livelihoods to communities

Starting in 2015, Mikajy Natiora plans to begin implementing programs that allow communities to develop new sources of income that help decrease the need for humans to use the local forests for survival.

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Association Mitsinjo

Mitsinjo LogoCommunity-based organization managing two rainforest sites in Central and Eastern Madagascar

Working Towards Sustainable Development in Central Madagascar and Beyond

Association Mitsinjo works for the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable development of the Andasibe region (central Madagascar) and beyond. They manage the forest station at the Analamazoatra Special Reserve, a part of the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. They also manage the Torotorofotsy Ramsar Site in eastern Madagascar—one of the last intact mid-altitudinal marshes in the country.

What Lemur Species does Association Mitsinjo Protect?

Prolemur simus research.

A Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus) being held by a researcher.

More than 11 species of lemurs are known in 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 does Association Mitsinjo Protect Lemur Habitat?

Management of the Forest Station at the Analamazoatra Special Reserve

One of the Indris.

One of the Indri lemurs!

Association Mitsinjo has been managing the forest station since 2002 and has a contract to manage this program for another 20 years. They aim to preserve and restore 700 hectares of rainforest in this region into pristine lemur habitat.

To date, logging and hunting using snares has almost stopped completely in this area. In addition, they have restored 400 hectares using 400,000 native trees grown in the Association’s nurseries. As a result of their work, Indri populations have increased and the area has become a highlight for tourists visiting Madagascar.

Management of the Torotorofotsy Ramsar Site

Children planting rainforest trees.

Children planting rainforest trees.

Association Mitsinjo has managed the Ramsar Site since 2005. They help enforce its protected area status and facilitate sustainable use of the habitat by the local community.

The Association emphasizes local capacity building, building a variety of different programs including:

  • The construction of a primary school;
  • Community-based monitoring of lemurs, birds, and frogs;
  • Promotion of ecotourism and novel agricultural techniques;
  • And, the establishment of a lemur research camp.

Thanks to their efforts, a new population of greater bamboo lemurs (Prolemur simus) have been found in the area, which are now being monitored.

Partnering with Local Communities

Children learning about nature.

Children learning about nature.

As a community-based Malagasy conservation organization, all of their members are from the local community. To preserve the sustainability of their programming, they have established long-term management contracts for two rainforest sites. Preservation of these areas—for both people and lemurs—form the core of their sustainability strategy. As noted above, they engage in a variety of social development and capacity building programs for the communities they support, including the construction of a primary school.

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GERP: Groupe d’étude et de recherche sur les primates de Madagascar

GERP Logo

GERP connects scientists in Madagascar with the international community to help build in-country capacity for lemur conservation.

Supporting lemur conservation through capacity building and collaboration

GERP connect Malagasy scientists united in saving lemurs.

GERP connects Malagasy scientists united in saving lemurs.

GERP (Groupe d’étude et de recherche sur les primates) is an association based in Madagascar with nearly 200 members, including scientists and primatologists. Its purpose is centered on the conservation of Madagascar’s lemurs, and since its inception, it has focused heavily on working with local communities in Madagascar to effect change. Established in 1994 by the Department of Biological Anthropology and Paleontology and Department of Animal Biology of the University of Antananarivo (Madagascar), its headquarters are located right on the university campus, in the center of the capital city. Notably, GERP took over management of the Maromizaha forest in 2008; a report of those activities can be read here.

What lemur species does GERP work with?

GERP broadly supports scientists and research efforts of all lemur species. The organization is best known for having played a key role in discovering three new species of lemurs:

  • Madame Berthe lemur (Microcebus berthae)
  • MacArthur’s mouse lemur (Microcebus macarthurii)
  • Gerp’s mouse lemur (Microcebus gerpi)

They also actively work in regions that protect several other lemur species, including:

  • Eastern woolly lemur (Avahi laniger)
  • Indri (Indri indri)
  • Diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema)
  • Common brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus)
  • Red-bellied lemur (Eulemur rubriventer)
  • Eastern lesser bamboo lemur (Hapalemur griseus)
  • Black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata)
GERP provides a real opportunity for Malagasy university students to connect with foreign researchers.

GERP provides a real opportunity for Malagasy university students to connect with foreign researchers.

The association primarily focuses on the scientific study of lemurs, including the study of their geographical distribution, the implementation of conservation plans, and participation in the discovery of new species. It is also responsible for transferring animals weakened by the destruction of their habitat to protected areas and zoos. Collaboration with other actors in the protection of working lemurs on the island and various educational programs of local people is another important aspect of its work.

How is GERP protecting habitat for lemur conservation?

Since 2008, GERP has been managing the Maromizaha forest in eastern Madagascar. This 1880 hectare forest is home to important wildlife but 98% of local villagers continue to extract resources from the park. For this reason, GERP’s responsibilities include patrolling the park, increasing enforcement, undertaking reforestation programming, and working to increase awareness in the region about alternative livelihoods and the value of nature.

In their role, GERP undertakes several patrols per yeas – sometimes several patrols per month – and try to raise awareness in the villages surrounding the park about the need to protect and use resources sustainably. To try and stem the intensification of forest destruction, GERP works with local and regional authorities to help enforce local laws, where enforcement is otherwise typically low.

In addition to enforcement, GERP manages a variety of other programs in and around this protected area. For example, they undertake reforestation programs in three villages; in 2014, each village nursery had the capacity to produce a minimum of 4,000 native plants. In addition, they manage lemur monitoring programs that are critical for increasing our understanding of whether threatened lemur species can still be found in these forest fragments and how they are being impacted by degradation.

Partnering with local communities

Education

By connecting scientists in Madagascar with international research groups, GERP is building the capacity of local community associations as well as primary and higher education systems in Madagascar; this will help increase the in-country capabilities to conserve endangered lemur populations. For example, in the villages surrounding the Maromizaha forest, GERP has donated hundreds of school uniforms to the students who cannot afford them and GERP has covered the costs of teacher salaries when no funding was available to pay them. Through its ongoing programs in Maromizaha, GERP has been able to offer local primary school students a variety of science educational opportunities, including guided visits into the forest and interactive tree-planting lessons.

World Lemur Festival

GERP was a key organizer of the first World Festival of Lemurs, which raised significant awareness for the plight of endangered lemur populations and engaged communities across the globe in lemur-related activities.

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