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Oxford Brookes University

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Oxford Brookes University: Nocturnal Primate Research Group

What We Do

The critically endangered Madame Fleurette’s sportive lemur at Tsitongambarika Protected Area near Fort Dauphin. Photo: Marius Andriamorasata.

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). No systematic research had been conducted before our arrival. It is considered one of the Lemur Action Plan priorities and one of the last large expanses of lowland rainforest left in Madagascar.

Studying the Activity of Cathemeral Lemurs

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.

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.

Studying Lemurs in the South-eastern Literal Forest, Andasibe, and Sahamalaza

Since 1999, we have also studied the archipelago of fragments of the south-eastern littoral forest. And, members of our research groups have also studied the behavioural ecology of lemur species in Andasibe and Sahamalaza.

What Lemur Species We Study

Group of Red-fronted brown lemurs in Ranomafana

Group of Red-fronted brown lemurs (Eulemur rufifrons). Photo credit: Mariah Donohue.

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

  • Collared brown lemur (Eulemur collaris) and Southern lesser bamboo lemur (Hapalemur meridionalis) in the littoral forests of Mandena and Sainte Luce (Fort Dauphin)
  • Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) and Eulemur hybrids in the gallery forest of Berenty (Fort Dauphin)
  • Red-fronted lemur (Eulemur rufifrons) in the dry forest of Kirindy (Morondava)

Lemurs in the south-eastern littoral forest include:

  • Collared brown lemur (Eulemur collaris)
  • Southern lesser bamboo lemur (Hapalemur meridionalis)
  • Southern woolly lemur (Avahi meridionalis)
  • Dwarf lemurs (Cheirogaleus sp.)
  • Mouse lemurs (Microcebus sp.)

Members of our research groups have also studied the following lemur species in Andasibe and Sahamalaza, respectively:

  • Hairy-eared dwarf lemur (Allocebus trichotis)
  • Northern giant mouse lemur (Mirza zaza)
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SEED Madagascar

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SEED Madagascar

What We Do

SEED Madagascar's Conservation Programme team.

SEED Madagascar’s Conservation Programme team.

The work we do is focused on conservation research and social development. Our mission is to alleviate poverty and conserve the unique, biologically rich, and greatly endangered forest environments in southeast Madagascar. We help to empower the region’s poorest people to establish sustainable livelihoods for themselves and improve their well being.

SEED Madagascar’s Conservation Program implements a broad range of lemur projects that conserve the lemurs of Sainte Luce and ensure their long-term survival within their natural habitat.

How We Protect Lemurs And Other Wildlife

Conducting Research to Preserve Sainte Luce Habitat

The littoral forests of Sainte Luce have been declared a conservation priority within a globally recognized biodiversity hotspot, making conservation here essential. Additionally, this habitat has been earmarked for future mining projects which may threaten the lemur populations, as well as other unique wildlife in the region. SEED Madagascar has been researching the lemurs, bats, amphibians and reptiles, as well as plants, restricted to the littoral forest fragments of Sainte Luce.

Our research estimates the population densities of the impacted species and calculates whether remaining habitats will be enough to support these populations. SEED Madagascar publishes research which directly contributes to wildlife conservation projects in the area.

Nocturnal Lemur Research

Our current focus is monitoring the population size and distribution of the three nocturnal lemur species found in Sainte Luce, Microcebus tanosi (Anosy mouse lemur), Cheirogaleus medius (Fat-tailed dwarf lemur) and Avahi meridionalis (Southern woolly lemur). All three species are now classified as Endangered by the IUCN, and as such more research is urgently needed. The SEED Conservation Research Programme is also working with the Project Ala team which has been set up to establish biodiversity corridors between the forest fragments of Sainte Luce, and which will help to protect these species from further decline.

What Lemur Species We Protect

SEED Madagascar’s research programs protect several lemur species found in the region:
Collared brown lemur (Eulemur collaris).

  • Collared brown lemur (Eulemur collaris)
  • Anosy mouse lemur (Microcebus tanosi)
  • Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur (Cheirogaleus medius)
  • Southern woolly lemur (Avahi meridionalis)

How We Support Local Communities

Conservation education with children.The work we do involves communities at every stage of project development, implementation, and evaluation. This makes projects more sustainable and promotes local ownership.

The SEED Madagascar Conservation Programme has had a permanent base in the community of Sainte Luce (southeast Madagascar) for more than five years. Through this relationship, SEED Madagascar draws on the knowledge of the community and uses guides trained by the forest management committee. In return, the programme provides training in ecology, conservation and the English language for local Malagasy, and runs a highly successful Saturday conservation club. Additionally, this volunteer program brings tourists (and the associated income and awareness) to the village.

Sustainable Livelihoods

We believe that conservation and supporting the local livelihoods of the communities of southeast Madagascar must go hand in hand. Many people in this region depend on natural resources from the forests and seas. We are working to support the transition to sustainable income sources through the following projects:

Project Mahampy – Helps women who work as traditional weavers to increase their income, and contributes scientific studies to enable the management of healthy Mahampy reedbeds for long term income generation.

Stitch Sainte Luce – Helps women who work in embroidery to run a sustainable co-operative, providing business training, and marketing and international sales support.

Oratsimba – Works to strengthen community-based, sustainable fisheries management and the economic resilience of fishing households in southeast Madagascar.

Renitantely – Works to improve the sustainability and viability of beekeeping as a livelihood amongst rural communities in the Anosy region.

Community Health

For over 15 years, SEED Madagascar has been working the improve public health in southeast Madagascar. Our current projects aim to:

  • Improve sanitation in Sainte Luce, including the WASH programs in local schools
  • Increase maternal and child health
  • Support water security and livelihoods programs
  • Increase awareness of sexual health and access to family planning materials

Education

Conservation education with children.

Conservation education with children.

In the Anosy region half of all children have never been to primary school, due to a lack of educational infrastructure and teachers. Our education projects help to tackle the shortfall by building new schools, repairing existing buildings, providing furniture and facilities to schools which don’t have enough, and supporting teachers to teach.

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Eden Reforestation Projects

Eden Reforestation Projects logo.

Eden Reforestation Projects

What We Do

Eden Reforestation Projects’ mission is to alleviate extreme poverty through environmental stewardship. Every year Eden Reforestation Projects employs thousands of villagers in Madagascar, Ethiopia, Haiti, and Nepal to plant millions of native tree species resulting in the alleviation of extreme poverty and the restoration of healthy forest systems.

Eden Reforestation Projects has been working in Madagascar since 2007, and our efforts have resulted in the planting of over 77 million dry deciduous and mangrove trees in Madagascar alone. Eden Reforestation Projects is the largest reforestation group in Madagascar, and we aim to plant billions, yes billions, of trees in Madagascar in the next decade.

How We Protect Lemurs And Other Wildlife

common brown lemur

A common brown lemur.

Habitat destruction is one of the main threats to lemurs in Madagascar; some studies estimate that over 80% of vegetation in the country has been degraded or destroyed. At Eden Reforestation Projects we’re working to combat this: 77 million trees were planted across Madagascar between 2007 and 2014. The organization is focusing its reforestation efforts in Madagascar around eight western Malagasy villages. In addition, we partner with one national park (Ankarafantsika), one university (Mahajanga), and one hotel resort with a private forest reserve (Antsanitia).

Mangroves

At Eden we’ve been working to rehabilitate mangrove estuaries in Madagascar since 2007. These habitats are critical to overall ecosystem health (combating erosion and improving ocean health) and also provide habitat for several mouse lemur species. In addition, healthy mangrove forests are green pathways for larger lemur species to cross from one patch of dry deciduous forest to another. Through our clearance, propagule collecting and planting work Mahajanga now has a healthy mangrove forest.

Dry Deciduous Reforestation Projects

IMG_6940In 2012, we expanded our reforestation work to dry deciduous forests. The overwhelming majority of the tree species grown here are endemic to Madagascar’s western regions, and virtually all of the species grown are native and essential to lemur species that inhabit these forests. Our main lemur habitat partner is Ankarafantsika National Park, which has a full nursery operating within the confines of the National Park and is home to eight endangered lemur species.

Fire prevention

Fire is the primary threat to all reforestation efforts in Madagascar, so we protect our reforestation sites by surrounding them with fire breaks and by hiring emergency fire prevention crews.

What Lemur Species We Protect

With the dry deciduous reforestation project our work is helping protect species present at Ankarafantsika National Park, including:

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

How We Support Local Communities

IMG_6949Eden Reforestation Projects believes in holistic community development, including assisting with the construction of schools, fresh water wells, and some medical services. In addition, Eden Reforestation Projects partners with local communities to provide employment opportunities as tree planters and forest guards. These partnerships initially began with the “Employ to Plant” approach to habitat restoration, which pays thousands of people across multiple developing countries, including Madagascar, to plant trees.

Sustainability of programming

NCS_8591At Eden we take a diverse approach to sustainability, which begins with the establishment of legal agreements with the local, regional, and national government agencies that authorize the reforestation efforts and include preserving the restored forests in perpetuity. Further, Eden is partnered with Mahajanga University and has an agreement with the Ankarafantsika National Park, where we seek to educate the communities with the goal of preserving the forests and local lemur populations.

Fruit orchards and fuel-efficient stoves

We know that reforestation projects are only impactful if other programs are instituted to help the local communities refrain from cutting those new forests back down. Therefore, we have also planted fruit trees as well as trees that can be used in construction. These are beneficial to the local villagers and ensure that their physical and financial needs are accounted for. In addition, in each of the villages, fuel-efficient stoves and/or solar-stoves have been provided, which have largely led to a significant decrease in charcoal production and use in the areas Eden serves.

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

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

What We Do

GERP connect Malagasy scientists united in saving lemurs.

GERP connects Malagasy scientists united in saving lemurs.

Groupe d’étude et de recherche (GERP) connects scientists in Madagascar with the international community to help build in-country capacity for lemur conservation.

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.

How We Protect Lemurs And Other Wildlife

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.

We focus 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. We also translocate animals weakened by the destruction of their habitat to protected areas and zoos.

Since 2008, GERP has been managing the Maromizaha forest in eastern Madagascar. This 1880 hectare forest is home to important wildlife but local villagers continue to extract resources from the park to meet their needs. 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.

What Lemur Species We Protect

GERP 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)

How We Support Local Communities

Education

2014 World Lemur Festival in Antananarivo, Madagascar

2014 World Lemur Festival in Antananarivo, Madagascar

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 here. This will help increase the in-country capabilities to conserve endangered lemur populations.

In the villages surrounding the Maromizaha forest, we at GERP have donated hundreds of school uniforms to the students who cannot afford them and we have 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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