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Man and the Environment: Net Positive Impact Program

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,
  • Propithecus diadema
  • Varecia variegata
  • Hapalemur griseus
  • Eulemur rubriventer
  • Eulemur fulvus
  • Microcebus lehilahytsara
  • Avahi laniger
  • lepilemur mustelinus
  • Cheirogaleus major
  • Daubentonia madagascariensis
  • Allocebus trichotis
  • Microcebus rufus

Indri Indri from the Vohimana forest

The Tsaramandroso community forest in the buffer zone of the Ankarafantsika National Park:

  • Propithecus coquereli
  • Lepilemur edwardsi
  • Avahi occidentalis
  • Microcebus ravelobensis
  • Eulemur mongoz
  • Microcebus murinus
  • Cheirogaleus medius
  • Eulemur fulvus

The Ambalakalanoro forest in the north-west coast: 

  • Propithecus verreauxi coquereli
  • Eulemur fulvus fulvus
  • Microcebus murinus
  • Cheirogaleus medius
  • Eulemur mongoz
  • Hapalemur griseus occidentalis
  • Phaner furcifer
  • Avali occidentalis
  • Lepilemur edwarsi

How does Net Positive Impact work for lemur conservation?

Habitat protection

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.

Eco-tourism

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.

Learn more about Vohimina

Environmental policy

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.

Notable successes:

  • 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.

Notable successes:

  • 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.

3. Sustainable agriculture productivity improvement.

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.

Notable successes:

  • 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.

Notable successes:

  • 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
    to class.
  • 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.

Notable successes:

  • 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.

Notable successes:

  • 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

Vohimana Project

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.

Donate

  • 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.

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LEEP- University of Arizona

LEEP Logo Web transparent

About the Laboratory for the Evolutionary Endocrinology of Primates (LEEP)

Our program generally focuses on primate research and conservation, with a focus on lemurs. We are concerned with how lemurs negotiate survival and reproduction in dynamic environments. The majority of our research is conducted with red-bellied lemurs (Eulemur rubriventer), but we are also involved in research with other species, such as the brown mouse lemur (Microcebus rufus), Milne-Edwards sifaka (Propithecus edwardsi), and Diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema).

Most work is conducted in Ranomafana National Park in southeastern Madagascar, but we also do work at Kianjavato and Tsinjoarivo with our collaborators.

Engaging with the local community

Adult male red-bellied lemur Atody with infant Ovy, showing off an example of allomaternal care. Photo by Pierre Lahitsara, as part of a face recognition project.

Adult male red-bellied lemur Atody with infant Ovy, showing off an example of allomaternal care. Photo by Pierre Lahitsara, as part of a face recognition project.

We engage directly with community members in several ways. We hire local experts to help us conduct our research. We train students and locals without formal education in scientific principles and date collection.

We collaborate with researchers and Centre ValBio staff on grant proposals and research. And we communicate our research at all stages through disseminating publications, giving presentations to officials, tourism guides, faculty, and students, and co-mentoring students.

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Institute of Zoology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (TiHo)

University of Hanover

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)

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:

  • Coquerel’s sifaka (Propithecus coquereli)
  • Milne-Edwards sportive lemurs (Lepilemur edwardsi)
  • Western woolly lemurs (Avahi occidentalis)
  • 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)

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:

  • Coquerel’s sifaka (Propithecus coquereli)
  • Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
  • Danfoss’ mouse lemur (Microcebus danfossorum)
  • Grewcock’s sportive lemur (Lepilemur grewcockorum)
  • Fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius)
  • Common brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus)
  • Otto’s sportive lemur (Lepilemur otto)
  • Bongolava mouse lemur (Microcebus bongolavensis)
  • Gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus)
Lepilemur edwardsi, Ankarafantsika National Park (photo: E. Zimmermann)

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:

  1. Facilitating existing local conservation projects;
  2. 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);
  3. Undertake educational exchanges for two-way communication and knowledge transfer, and train locals in sustainable agricultural techniques;
  4. Mitigate habitat threats through fire prevention and control, promotion of alternative cooking fuels, and by supporting forest patrols.
  5. 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.

Captive Management

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)

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:

  1. jointly perform research projects and publish scientific results with Malagasy collaborators;
  2. improve access of Malagasy partners to scientific results from the international research community;
  3. provide institutional support for Malagasy universities and collaborators;
  4. increase scientific networking with Malagasy colleagues;
  5. support and mentor Malagasy students, postdocs, and researchers; and
  6. 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)

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:

  1. Survey work utilizing the existing forest wardens and additional, temporary base camps;
  2. Train park wardens/forest agents to undertake biodiversity assessments and data processing;
  3. Establish a long-term database and communication network for transmitting and continuously evaluating the monitoring activities at each base camp and across the park;
  4. Build a conservation education program to teachers so that they can better deliver conservation lessons to their students.
  5. 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.
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Planet Madagascar

Building sustainable forest communities.

Supporting lemur conservation in northwest Madagascar through focused outreach and education programming.

Planet MadagascarPlanet 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:

  • Coquerel’s sifaka (Propithecus coquereli)
  • Western woolly lemur (Avahi occidentalis)
  • Mongoose lemur (Eulemur mongoz)
  • Common brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus)
  • Gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus)
  • Golden-brown mouse lemur (Microcebus ravelobensis)
  • Milne-Edward’s sportive lemur (Lepilemur edwardsi)
  • Fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius)

How is Planet Madagascar protecting habitat for lemur conservation?

Fire Management

Planet Madagascar staff.

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.

Forest reforestation

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

Planet MadagascarLocal 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.

Community Livelihoods

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 MadagascarPlanet 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.”

Educational Documentary

Planet MadagascarAlong 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.

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Lemur Conservation Foundation

Lemur Conservation Foundation logo 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.

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.

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:

  • Indri (Indri indri)
  • Silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus)
  • Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
  • Mittermeier’s mouse lemurs (Microcebus mittermeieri)
  • Northern bamboo lemur (Hapalemur occidentalis)

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.

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

Educational Outreach

The first book in the Ako Project series, Ako the Aye-Aye.

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.

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Chances for Nature

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Chances for Nature uses modern media and innovative technology to improve natural resource use in rural communities.

Saving lemurs by helping communities learn about sustainable resources and communicating results across the country

Chances for natureChances for Nature aims to spread, communicate, and promote sustainable natural resource use techniques as well as raise awareness for Madagascar’s extraordinary biodiversity. Chances for Nature achieves these goals through outreach, education and capacity building in small villages in rural Madagascar. Chances for Nature currently focuses many of its efforts in Central Menabe (west Madagascar), but does not limit its education initiatives to just this region.

What lemur species does Chances for Nature protect?

Chances for nature - mouse lemurThis area where Chances for Nature has focused many of its efforts – in west Madagascar – is home to the largest remaining dry deciduous forest of Western Madagascar. This unique ecosystem is home to high floral and faunal diversity, including the world’s smallest primate: Microcebus berthae.

Partnering with local communities

Chances for Nature works closely with local communities in order to establish new programs that help spread information about how natural resources can be used sustainably in remote and resource-poor communities. The work is done in close collaboration with local communities and necessarily involves a partnership with people and elected officials in the areas where Chances for Nature works.

Environmental education

Chances for nature OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn order spread information about the need to use natural resources in a sustainable manner, Chances for Nature uses Malagasy-language multimedia presentations and films to promote sustainable use techniques and practices. In 2013, they produced a film designed to illustrate the uniqueness of Madagascar’s biodiversity; the film also explained the consequences of unsustainable use of natural resources and presented three alternative sustainable techniques and behaviors that could be used to improve the lives of local people while reducing natural resource depletion. This film – as well as other multimedia presentations – reached Malagasy communities in 2013 and 2014 through the help of a mobile cinema. This mobile cinema works exclusively through pedal (bicycle) power and thus reaches a large amount of people – even in remote areas without electricity. The cinema was even used to raise awareness and supplement environmental education in several Malagasy schools.

Presentations currently focus on educating Malagasy communities about:

  • SRI (Sustainable Rice Intensification)
  • Combining fish breeding with rice cultivation
  • Self-made ecological stoves (Fatana mitsitsy or Fatapera mitsitsy)
  • The benefits of ecological stoves (Fatana mitsitsy)
  • Ecologically-friendly charcoal

Ecological stoves

Chances for natureThe first campaign designed to actually implement behavior changes in local communities, supplemented the media-based education program with workshops designed to teach the construction of ecologically friendly stoves built using locally available materials. As 80% of the energy consumption in Madagascar is used for cooking, the use of environmentally-friendly stoves can have a positive impact on habitat protection. Chances for Nature’s approach of combining environmental education, the promotion of sustainable techniques and behaviors, and modern media turned out to be very successful and motivated two communities to built and use the stoves.

Additional workshops and programs will be incorporated into future outreach efforts. Possible topics are numerous, and could include: bee keeping, silk production, chicken breeding, and the cultivation of yams. These workshops will contribute to the food and economic security of Malagasy communities, increase the sustainability of natural resource use, and function to protect the last remaining habitats of lemurs.

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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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Centre ValBio & the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments

ICTE and Centre ValBio focus the world’s attention on Madagascar’s lemur crisis through targeted research, conservation, and capacity building.

Supporting lemur conservation by promoting world-class research, encouraging environmental conservation, and building local capacity

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The Centre ValBio – a cutting-edge research station in Madagascar.

The Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments (ICTE) was established by Dr. Patricia Wright in 1991 to encourage and promote scientific research, training and conservation in the tropics. ICTE – together with Stony Brook University – maintain a state-of-the-art research station, Centre ValBio, adjacent to Ranomafana National Park in eastern Madagascar. This research station hosts hundreds of researchers, students, and eco-tourists each year; it is truly the only facility of its kind in the country.

Centre ValBio (CVB) – founded in 2003 – helps both indigenous people and the international community better understand the value of conservation in Madagascar and around the world.

CVB’s mission has three main objectives:

  1. To promote world-class research in one of the world’s most biologically diverse and unique ecosystems;
  2. To encourage environmental conservation by developing ecologically sustainable economic development programs with local villages; and
  3. To provide the local villagers with the knowledge and tools to improve their quality of life through projects focused on sanitation, diet, and education, and ultimately reduce poverty in the area.

What lemur species do ICTE and the Centre Valbio protect?

Centre valbio wildlife

Wildlife in the Ranomafana National Park.

The work of ICTE/Centre Valbio places particular emphasis on the region surrounding the Ranomafana National Park, in eastern Madagascar. This park is host to several lemur species, including:

  • Aye aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
  • Brown mouse lemur (Microcebus rufus)
  • Eastern wooly lemur (Avahi laniger)
  • Golden bamboo lemur (Hapalemur aureus)
  • Greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus)
  • Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (Propithecus edwardsi)

It is important to note that long-term research programs are a big priority to ICTE, who trains scientists at all levels through field-based courses, collaborations, and academic exchanges. More than 400 scientific publications have directly resulted from work conducted in partnership with the Centre ValBio. In addition, the organization also conducts biodiversity research and ecological assessments of tropical ecosystems, and coordinates and catalogs the work of over 800 natural and social scientists!

Recent successes at CVB include the translocation of three Prolemur simus from a forest fragment to the national park, as well as the discovery of a thriving group in a nearby region!

Influencing environmental policy to help lemurs

The Ranomafana National Park – which protects 41,500 hectares of rainforest – was created with the help of Dr. Patricia Wright, the founder of ICTE and CVB. Since the creation of this park, the organization has continued to help bring attention to the plight of lemurs and biodiversity in Madagascar at the regional, national, and international level.

Partnering with local communities

Centre Valbio conservation programs

Centre ValBio’s conservation programs have also included reforestation and education initiatives.

One of the central missions of ICTE/CVB has been collaboration and partnerships with the local Malagasy community. CVB employs over 80 local Malagasy as guides and staff for the research station, and has opened up opportunities for work in the park and surrounding areas. In addition to providing sustainable employment, CVB organizes multiple outreach programs in the fields of education, the arts, sustainable agriculture, and reforestation.

Conservation outreach

Centre ValBio leads outreach and public awareness programs that highlight the unique biodiversity of Madagascar; most of this works is achieved through 15 conservation clubs spread across 22 villages that contain almost 500 members. They also use audiovisual and hands-on demonstrations to teach about biodiversity and reforestation in 19 local schools. Most recently, Centre ValBio and ICTE support a range of education initiatives in the Ranomafana region through the PLAY project.

Centre ValBio donates food to local community

Centre ValBio donates food to local community thanks to the help of an emergency fund.

Reforestation program

The Centre ValBio undertakes educational outreach aimed at teaching the value of trees, not just for animals, but for clean water and erosion control as well. Their reforestation initiatives have also targeted schools through their “from schools to the communities programs”, which has worked with 22 villages and 15 clubs on reforestation initiatives.

Health and hygiene

CVB works to improve the local communities’ nutritional conditions through education, implementation of infrastructure, and follow-up on improved sanitary practices. For example, CVB provides seeds and training for vegetable gardens to improve nutritional conditions in impoverished rural communities.

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