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Oxford Brookes University

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Oxford Brookes University

About the Nocturnal Primate Research Group

As part of the Lemur Conservation Action Plan, we are among the leading groups in charge of developing research and conservation in the recently established protected area of Tsitongambarika (south-east corner of Madagascar). This area, where no systematic research has been conducted so far, is considered one of the Action Plan priorities and one of the last large expanses of lowland rainforest left in Madagascar.

Since 1995, we have been studying the proximate and ultimate determinants of day-night activity (aka cathemeral activity) in true lemurs. This activity pattern is extremely rare among primates but common in lemurs, thus offering the unique opportunity to study the key transition between nocturnal and diurnal life during primate evolution.

The lemur species and field sites where we conducted our work on cathemeral activity are:

  • Eulemur collaris and Hapalemur meridionalis in the littoral forests of Mandena and Sainte Luce (Fort Dauphin);
  • Lemur catta and Eulemur hybrids in the gallery forest of Berenty (Fort Dauphin); and
  • Eulemur rufifrons in the dry forest of Kirindy (Morondava).

At the first two sites we have ongoing programs of research.

Studying How Lemurs Respond to Changes in Food Availability and Habitat

A second main stream of our research is focusing on lemur response to change in food availability and habitat disturbance. Since most forested areas in Madagascar have been modified by humans, understanding how lemurs respond to habitat disturbance and/or how they cope with new habitats is urgent. This response is investigated at various levels including thermoregulation, activity and ranging pattern, diet composition and nutritional ecology.

This work uses as a model the archipelago of fragments of the south-eastern littoral forest where the entire lemur community (Eulemur collarisHapalemur meridionalisAvahi meridionalis; Cheirogaleus sp.; Microcebus sp.) has been studied since 1999.

Members of our research groups have also studied the behavioural ecology of Allocebus trichotis and Mirza zaza in Andasibe and Sahamalaza, respectively.

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Bristol Zoological Society

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What We Do

Bristol Zoological Society Pierre Lepi 1Bristol Zoological Society saves wildlife through conservation action and engaging people with the natural world. We currently focus efforts on the Sahamalaza peninsula of northwestern Madagascar. We are working together with other European zoos to protect the last remaining populations of two critically endangered lemur species, the blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons) and the Sahamalaza sportive lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis).

How We Protect Lemurs And Other Wildlife

We raise awareness of the threats facing lemurs at the regional, national, and international level. For example, the zoological society worked with the government to create the Sahamalza Iles Radama National Park. In addition, the BZS Director of Conservation, Dr. Christoph Schwitzer, is the editor of Lemur News, an online and publicly available newsletter that connects the research and conservation community. In addition, the BZS has led the publication of several highly-visible articles, which effectively called attention to the plight of lemurs in Madagascar.

Some of these publications include:

Schwitzer et al. (2014) Protecting lemurs – response. Science. 344: 358
Schwitzer et al. (2014) Averting lemur extinctions amid Madagascar’s political crisis. Science. 343: 842-843

What Lemur Species We Protect

  • Blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons)
  • Sahamalaza sportive lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis)
  • Sambirano mouse lemur (Microcebus sambiranensis)
  • Northern giant mouse lemur (Mirza zaza)

How We Support Local Communities

Bristol Zoological Society Felicia inspecting Lepilemur pooThe Bristol Zoological Society actively engages with the public and scientific community, sharing knowledge, eliciting support, and guiding behavior change. We apply specialist skills to investigate conservation problems and to guide and support local communities in tackling environmental issues.

We work to improve the conservation status of target lemur species both through direct research and by supporting local NGOs in the region. As one of the core partners in the AEECL (Association Europeenne pour l’Etude et la Conservation des Lemuriens), we contribute to education in local communities by helping to employ 60 teachers in 37 villages and providing conservation education teaching materials.

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Mikajy Natiora

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What We Do

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. We currently focus our work on northwest Madagascar in the region surrounding the Sahamalaza Iles Radama National Park. We are funded by several foundations including the Van Tienhoven Foundation for International Nature Protection, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, and the Rufford Foundation.

How We Protect Lemurs And Other Wildlife

We work to conserve lemurs by conducting research and maintaining updated information about endangered lemur populations at our study site in northwest Madagascar.

The local community also receives education from our organisation which is crucial to raising awareness of the importance of conserving lemurs and their forest habitat.

What Lemur Species We Protect

Carnival Mikajy Natiora

Mikajy Natiora participating in a local environmentally-themed carnival.

Species we protect include the Blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons), the only primate in the world with blue eyes, which is estimated to go extinct in the next decade unless drastic measures are taken to conserve the species.

In addition, Mikajy Natiora collects information about the:

  • Sahamalaza sportive lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis)
  • Sambirano mouse lemur (Microcebus sambiranensis)
  • Fork marked dwarf lemur (Phaner furcifer)
  • Western gentle lemur (Hapalemur griseus occidentalis)

How We Support Local Communities

At Mikajy Natiora we always inform local communities when we’re going to conduct activities in the vicinity by using public meetings to explain the objectives of our work. In addition, we deliver several education and outreach programs to supplement our research-based approach.

Mikajy Natiora

Mikajy Natiora staff!

Education, outreach, and training

We’ve 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 their forest habitat.

In addition, we train 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

At Mikajy Natiora we’re 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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AEECL

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What We Do

A female Blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons).

A female Blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons).

AEECL focuses conservation efforts in northwest Madagascar through innovative capacity building, community outreach, and on-the-ground research programs. We have been conducting community-based conservation programs on the Sahamalaza Peninsula since 2000. We support lemur conservation by maintaining and strengthening natural habitat and improving how that habitat is used by humans. Additionally, AEECL advances the understanding and conservation of Madagascar’s lemurs through scientific research and captive breeding.

How We Protect Lemurs And Other Wildlife

Reforestation

We work with local communities to conduct community-based reforestation. AEECL’s programs planted over 111,000 trees around 14 villages in 2013 alone, involving local schools. Once the trees are planted, an association of gardeners monitors the survival of saplings and re-plants trees if necessary.

Constructing a fire break with the help of local communities.

Constructing a fire break with the help of local communities.

Patrolling Forests

We work with six local park committees to help patrol the forests in the national park. In 2013, these local park controls completed 300 patrol days.

Protecting Forests From Wildfires

Lastly, we work with local partners to organize community volunteers to build a 7 kilometer-long firebreak to protect the forest from the spread of wild fires. The community turn-out for yearly construction of the firebreak is extremely large—larger than many other community events in the region.

What Lemur Species We Protect

AEECL is heavily focused on the Sahamalaza Peninsula which is home to several lemur species, including:

  • Blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons)
  • Sahamalaza sportive lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis)

How We Support Local Communities

We see community collaboration as key to supporting and protecting the wildlife and habitat within the Sahamalaza National Park.

World Environment Day parade with local authorities.

World Environment Day parade with local authorities.

Eco-tourism

Since 2013, we’ve been working with local communities to increase local capacity to accommodate tourists by building several key facilities, including housing and solar paneling.

In addition, we train members of the local community to become tourist guides. We also created a guide association, which advocates for the guides and organizes tourist group visits. Guide training helps local community members improve their french and increase their knowledge of the local ecosystem and lemur species, thus helping them to become ambassadors for Madagascar’s environment.

Social Development

We have been working in education outreach since 2012, including much-needed school construction and renovation programs which impacted thirteen schools in the perimeter of the Sahamalaza National Park. We also subsidize the salaries of 60 school teachers, impacting over 2,000 students.

We have improved sanitation, hygiene, and health through the construction of six water wells in the surrounding communities. The construction of these wells is extremely important because water shortages have become increasingly common.

Reforestation outreach in rural Malagasy communities.

Reforestation outreach in rural Malagasy communities.

Environmental Outreach

We also work on a variety of local environmental awareness initiatives, organizing activities for World Environment Day and the World Lemur Festival. Activities are planned to increase environmental awareness, including parades, speeches, radio quizzes, sports events, and community dance events.

We help fund and organize the Lampogno Festival, a fun 4-day event about how food availability and habitat conservation are connected using films, children’s activities, speeches, and even a song contest.

 

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