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Duke Lemur Center

Duke Lemur Center logo.

Saving lemurs through scientific breakthroughs and on-the-ground conservation programming.

Founded in 1966, the Duke Lemur Center (DLC) at Duke University (Durham, North Carolina, USA) is an internationally acclaimed non-invasive research center housing over 200 lemurs across 14 species—the most diverse population of lemurs on Earth, outside their native Madagascar.

Because all of its research is non-invasive, the DLC is open to the public and educates more than 35,000 visitors annually. Its highly successful conservation breeding program seeks to preserve vanishing species such as the aye-aye, Coquerel’s sifaka, and blue-eyed black lemur, while its Madagascar Conservation Programs study and protect lemurs—the most endangered mammals on Earth—in their native habitat. The Division of Fossil Primates examines primate extinction and evolution over time and houses over 35,000 fossils, including extinct giant lemurs and one of the world’s largest and most important collections of early anthropoid primates.

SAVA Conservation Project 

 

In 2011, the DLC initiated the SAVA Conservation project in the northeast SAVA region, an acronym that stands for the four districts in the region: Sambava, Andapa, Vohemar, and Antalaha. The DLC-SAVA Conservation project is dedicated to preserving the natural biodiversity of Madagascar — especially its charismatic lemurs — by empowering local communities to be conservation leaders. Our goals are preserving natural environments as well as increasing sustainability and resilience. We achieve these goals through activities centered on education, reforestation, sustainable agriculture, fuel-efficient stoves, research, and much more.

The mission of DLC-SAVA Conservation is to conserve biodiversity in Madagascar by supporting the livelihoods of rural people in forest-bordering communities and through collaborations with researchers, local environmental organizations, and governmental institutions.

DLC-SAVA Conservation activities

Through our network of partners, the DLC-SAVA Conservation activities include:

Environmental education (EE):

    • EE working group: DLC sponsors a working group of local educators and school administrators to co-design conservation education programs for schools.
    • Lemur awareness campaign: noticing a remarkable increase in reports of lemur hunting, in 2021 the DLC began a mobile interpretive center that reaches diverse schools throughout the SAVA region. Partnering with school administrators and the EE working group, DLC staff visit schools, deliver presentations about the local lemur species, why lemurs are important, that they shouldn’t be hunted, and how to protect them. They give posters to the schools, and use lemur activity books to create their own posters about lemurs. All students finish with an evaluation and receive a certificate of lemur appreciation. Almost 400 students have participated in the lemur awareness campaign as of the writing of this article (July 2021), with 30-50 students being served each week.

Children proudly display their Lemur Appreciation certificates after a school visit in Manantenina

    • EE teacher training: Since 2012, DLC has run workshops for all the schools in the Sambava and Andapa districts. These workshops bring together 10-15 trainers, upwards of 250 teachers, and school administrators for 5-day lessons on how to implement environmental education into the curriculum. Founded on years of development between Malagasy conservationists and educators, the training centers around a manual that guides the teachers in integrating nature into every day lessons. Almost 3,000 teachers have been trained as of 2021, and all schools in the two districts have been reached. We now plan to expand to the Antalaha district.
    • Supporting local educators: The DLC partners with the New Generation School Garden, an interpretive center and demonstration farm that invites learners of all ages for educational lesson plans. Run by SAVA conservation activist BENASOAVINA Evrard, the aim of the garden is for visitors to have an engaging experience in nature and learn about sustainability and biodiversity. Through the NGSG and DLC, over 100 students have had 3 interactive lessons at the garden, with a goal of 300 students per year.

School children from the village of Ambatofitotra, near Sambava, during a visit to the New Generation School Garden. All visitors plant trees at the garden to commemorate their visit.

Landscape restoration:

    • The DLC maintains tree nurseries with communities to supply high quality seedlings of diverse trees including over a dozen native species, cash crops like coffee, cloves, and cacao, and over a dozen fruit species. As of the writing of this article, we partner with five communities to maintain tree nurseries and support their reforestation efforts. Each nursery produces approximately 25,000 seedlings per year, which are distributed to the community members to plant on their lands and during group planting events. The DLC staff provide consultation on proper planting techniques and follow up evaluations to determine seedling survival.

DLC sponsored tree nursery with the local school at Belaoka-Marovato, Andapa district.

    • We are partnered with local collaborators to maintain and monitor 4 reforestation plantations throughout the SAVA region, with over 59,000 trees planted on 20 hectares in 2021, and plans for a similar effort in 2022.

CURSA Director, Dr. MANJARIBE Christophe (left) demonstrates proper tree planting techniques with staff and students at their demonstration agroforestry field station.

Promoting aquaculture:

    • To diversify diets and incomes, and as a sustainable alternative to bushmeat, DLC pairs local leaders in fish farming with rural farmers for training in fish production. One model aquaculture project recently harvested over 13kg of fish within 4 months of restocking the pond. The harvested fish were shared among the parents who have made their own ponds so they could stock theirs, as well as a lunch for the school children, and some were sold to raise money for a new blackboard for the school.

Collaboration with Madagascar National Parks:

    • To increase protection and monitoring of parks, especially Marojejy, in recent years, we have continued to sponsor clearing the park limits, painting trees, and hanging new signs for boundary demarcation, and a road-block barrier to prevent trucks from transporting precious wood out of the forest. DLC also collaborates with the MNP to support monitoring by village guards and park staff.

Clear delineation of the park boundaries is essential to maintaining and monitoring the forest.

    • Installation of a potable water well at Manantenina in 2021: This village near the Marojejy National Park lacks reliable sources of clean water because local sources are often contaminated with disease-causing microbes. The DLC created a partnership agreement with the community to install a deep-water well that will maintain safe water even during the dry season.

Research:

  • In collaboration with the local university (CURSA), we are studying lemur viability in protected areas in SAVA, starting in 2020. One Malagasy PhD student and four Masters candidates are currently partnering with DLC and WWF to develop their thesis projects on the ecology and conservation of lemurs in the COMATSA, a corridor between Marojejy, Anjanaharibe-Sud, and Tsaratanana.
    • In addition to research in the forest on lemurs, the team conducts socio-ecological research with the communities. Through focus groups, key-informant interviews, and lemur awareness campaigns, the team is learning about how people use forest resources, especially the level of hunting.

CURSA researchers and local forest managers in the COMATSA protected area of the SAVA region.

  • In collaboration with CURSA, we are studying the links between socioeconomics, agriculture, nutrition, and health. Two Malagasy PhD students are developing their theses, one focusing on nutritional health and the other on connections between agriculture and socioeconomics.

Information campaign and distribution of fuel-efficient ‘rocket’ stoves:

  • More than 80% of people in Madagascar use firewood or charcoal to cook. We partner with the Swiss organization ADES, which produces fuel-efficient stoves in Madagascar that burn 1/3 the biomass of firewood or charcoal compared to traditional stoves. Between 2020 and 2021 alone, over 500 households received training and subsidized stoves. Stoves are sold during demonstrations, and through local entrepreneurs serving as distributors. We are evaluating participants, and found 100% of users are satisfied and save 25-50kg of charcoal on average per month.

Women’s reproductive health

  • We maintain collaboration with British NGO Marie Stopes International, to support nurses visiting remote villages and providing consultation and services on women’s health and reproduction. Over 1,500 women have been served in 23 rural villages.

Serving as a platform for Duke researchers and students:

  • The following departments at Duke have active projects in collaboration with DLC:
    • Duke Evolutionary Anthropology and Global Health (NSF-NIH funded research project)
    • Duke Nicholas School of the Environment Masters Program and the Duke Carbon Offset Initiative (investigating Madagascar reforestation programs for carbon offsets).

Collaboration with CURSA to promote capacity strengthening:

    • Two graduates of CURSA are pursuing Masters programs in the capital, supported by DLC scholarships.
    • Ten students (50% women) are currently enrolled in a DLC Agroecology Internship program, conducting workshops in sustainable agriculture and agroforestry, consulting with farmers about transitioning to sustainable techniques, evaluating programs, and leading in agribusiness entrepreneurship venues.
    • Educational workshops to develop skills:
      • Genetics with 30 students at CURSA in 2018. The workshop was led by DLC scientists Marina Blanco and Lydia Green, and focused on hands-on skills development in molecular biology methods.
      • Field Ecology and Conservation with 35 seniors at the university in 2019. The workshop included one week of field training on data collection in the Marojejy National Park, and one week of data analysis and scientific presentations and writing. The program culminated with students giving presentations on their results and experiences during the training. DLC-SAVA staff served as supervisors and thesis readers for four students preparing senior theses.
      • Scientific Methods and Natural History Collections, serving 30 seniors in 2021. Malagasy scientists Drs. RAMIADANTSOA Tanjona and RAKOTOARISON Andolalao from Antananarivo led a week-long course on the scientific method, principles of research design, and natural history collections especially focusing on rare reptiles and amphibians of the SAVA region.
    • Small research grants were awarded to 15 students to complete their Honors theses. Diverse topics included primatology, herpetology, hydrology, nutrition, agriculture, and evaluations of the DLC reforestation and fish farming projects, to name a few.

Regenerative agroecology:

  • DLC partners with CURSA to deliver a value-added package for students and farmers to develop skills in agroecology, including home gardens, regenerative agriculture, and agroforestry. Over 10 workshops have been conducted with ~200 participants (>50% women) between 2019 and 2021. Monthly evaluations show that about 40% of participants have adopted techniques learned during workshops and applied them in their own agriculture.
    • Women are so crucial to the agricultural value chain and are unfortunately marginalized. We began workshops specifically focusing on women, led by female trainers and attended exclusively by women. These have led to the creation of several Women’s Farmers Associations, who are coordinating their efforts to increase productivity and profitability for their small home gardens.

Women of Mandena village during an Agroecology workshop led by women, for women

 

New collaborations with the NGO Positive Planet and the spice company Virginia Dare.

  • Promoting improved regenerative agroforestry coupled with agribusiness projects with farmers. These projects seek to strengthen professional skills for farmers to develop agroforestry systems that will increase productivity and restore the landscape. In addition, skills-development in family farm budgets as well as village savings and loans associations (VSLAs) strengthen farmers’ socioeconomic resilience. These VSLAs give farmers access to banking and loan services managed by the communities, overcoming barriers of access to official banks.

These projects and more are active areas of research, conservation, and development by the DLC in partnership with our collaborators in Madagascar. We are proud to highlight the work of our partners, without whom the DLC could not achieve our goals. The collaborations with CURSA, MNP, DREDD, the Ministry of Education, local farmers and activists are all essential to meeting our common goals of conservation.

DLC-SAVA Conservation team

Charlie Welch, DLC Conservation Coordinator – Charlie is based at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, NC and has nearly 35 years of experience working in Madagascar conservation, including 15 years living in Madagascar. In 2004, Welch was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National by the government of Madagascar for conservation accomplishments in the Tamatave region, while with the Madagascar Fauna and Flora group. Welch now coordinates all project activities, both at the DLC and in Madagascar. Contact: charles.welch@duke.edu.

 

James Herrera, Ph.D., DLC-SAVA Program Coordinator – James is based in the SAVA region of Madagascar, with 10+ years of experience with conservation research and outreach in Madagascar. James conducted his Ph.D. at Stony Brook University with Dr. Patricia Wright, studying lemur evolution, ecology, and conservation. He was a research fellow at the American Museum of Natural History, and a researcher with Duke University’s Evolutionary Anthropology department and Duke Global Health Institute. James oversees the implementation and evaluation of all project activities in Madagascar. Contact: james.herrera@duke.edu.

 

Lanto AndrianandrasanaDLC-SAVA Project Coordinator – Lanto is based in SAVA region of Madagascar. He has worked in the SAVA since 2009 and has been with DLC-SAVA since its inception in 2011. Lanto has been involved in research, with a master’s degree in Paleontology, as well as lemur behavior and conservation. Lanto is responsible for project administration in SAVA and the coordination of our activities with local partners. Contact: lha3@duke.edu.

 

 

Evrard BenasoavinaDLC-SAVA Education specialist – Evrard is from the SAVA region and has worked with DLC-SAVA since 2020. Evrard has a background in biodiversity research and conservation, ecotourism, and agriculture. He created the New Generation School Garden, an interpretive center to valorize biodiversity and ecosystem services, especially related to natural resource management. Evrard leads in our education and outreach programs, including lemur awareness campaigns, school group visits to his center, and more.

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Aspinall Foundation

Aspinall Foundation Logo

The Aspinall Foundation’s long-term, community-based programs protect wildlife and wild habitats in Madagascar, ensuring that communities can conserve their forests and local lemur populations for many years to come.

Supporting lemur conservation through local partners to conserve endangered species and their habitats

Aspinall Foundation working with local community associations.

Aspinall Foundation working with local community associations.

In Madagascar, the Aspinall Foundation implements effective, targeted conservation programs to protect a small number of high priority lemur species, including greater bamboo lemurs, black-and-white ruffed lemurs and indri. They partner with local communities to address the conservation of both the species themselves and their habitat. The Aspinall Foundation has worked in both the eastern rainforests and the western dry forests of Madagascar.

What lemur species does the Aspinall Foundation protect?

The Aspinall Foundation’s work has been key to saving several Critically Endangered species from extinction. Using effective, targeted conservation actions on a small number of high priority lemur species, the programs implemented by The Aspinall Foundation have helped save the following species:

An Indri (Indri indri), copyright Tony King Aspinall Foundation

  • Black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata)
  • Crowned sifaka (Propithecus coronatus)
  • Diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema)
  • Mongoose lemur (Eulemur mongoz)
  • Greater bamboo lemurs (Prolemur simus)
  • Indri (Indri indri)

Greater Bamboo Lemurs (Prolemur simus)

Since 2008, the Aspinall Foundation has been working in eastern Madagascar to save greater bamboo lemurs, one of the rarest primates in the world. Thanks to their work, they have been able to discover new populations of this species, implement community-based conservation projects at ten new sites, and create the first-ever, community-managed site designed specifically to protect greater bamboo lemurs. At this community-managed site, they monitor over 30 lemur groups and 500 individuals on a weekly basis, which have helped remove greater bamboo lemurs from the 25-most-endangered primates list!

Black-and-White Ruffed Lemurs (Varecia variegata)

Since 2013, the Aspinall Foundation has been working in eastern Madagascar with conservation programming targeted at saving black-and-white ruffed lemurs. Thanks to their efforts, three new populations of the species have been discovered! Two populations of black-and-white ruffed lemurs are now protected and monitored annually.

The Aspinall Foundation plans to continue working to protect this species throughout its range and to develop conservation programs that help ensure its long-term survival.

How does the Aspinall Foundation protect lemur habitat?

Reforestation project.

One of the reforestation projects managed by The Aspinall Foundation.

Habitat protection is key to the foundation’s work, and is integrated into many of their programs through their innovative partnerships with local community organizations.

Partnering with local communities

The Aspinall Foundation’s support is always a long-term commitment to the community. All of Aspinall’s projects are community-based and support the local community associations that conserve the local forest habitats that have been identified as priority sites for their target lemur species. Their work builds the capacity of these communities so that they can conserve their forests and local lemur populations for many years to come.

The Aspinall Foundation partners with local communities at every project site.

  • They partnered with six local community associations and one private land-owner in eastern Madagascar to save the greater bamboo lemur.
  • Since 2010, they supported three local community associations in eastern Madagascar (Andriantantely) and hired over 15 rangers to monitor and protect lemurs and their habitats.
  • In Andriantantely, their work is supported by a community-based management agreement that sets the foundation for local communities to manage their forests and conservation programs in a sustainable way.
Lemur notebook distribution by Lucien Randrianarimanana.

Lemur notebook distribution by Lucien Randrianarimanana.

Influencing environmental policy to help lemurs

Additionally, the data collected by the Aspinall Foundation helps guide environmental policy. Thanks to their work, black-and-white ruffed lemurs are now recognized as a priority species by Malagasy authorities. The information they’ve collected has clarified how endangered their target species are, which is important because a lack of data prohibits an accurate estimate of population sizes and threats against the species.

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Conservation Fusion

Conservation Fusion LogoConservation Fusion connects communities across the world through education and environmental awareness raising.

Supporting lemur conservation through innovative education and outreach

Conservation Fusion connects communities across the world through innovative education programs that promote conservation actions. The organization currently focuses its efforts in Madagascar where it partners with research-oriented organizations – including the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership – to undertake education outreach programs. Conservation Fusion has ongoing programs in northern (Antsiranana region), eastern (Analmazaotra and Kianjavato), and southern Madagascar (Lavavolo).

What lemur species does Conservation Fusion protect?

Conservation Fusion’s programing increases awareness at four sites across Madagascar which are home to the following species of lemur:

  • Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
  • Black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata)
  • Diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema)
  • Greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus)
  • Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta)
  • Northern sportive lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis)

Partnering with local communities

Conservation Fusion’s greatest successes have come from the relationships and collaborations that they have forged with researchers, local communities, and organizations who aim to complement Conservation Fusion’s education programs and vision.

Conservation fusion 2Southern Madagascar

Conservation Fusion continues to break barriers in its education-based programming; their work in southern Madagascar is just one of the many initiatives being undertaken to raise awareness in-country. Here, Conservation Fusion focuses on raising awareness of radiated tortoises, ring-tailed lemurs, and sifaka in the dry spiny forests of Lavavolo in southern Madagascar. Their outreach programs – which have been implemented for over three years – consist of hands-on activities with the local villages and schools and include: community gardens, agriculture training, workshops on using fuel-efficient Rocket Stove, and a junior researcher day.

Conservaiton fusion 1One of Conservation Fusion’s larger initiatives is the building of a “dream school”; a school that village elders wished to provide to their children but something that had only ever been a dream for them. Conservation Fusion has started construction on the school, and plans to provide teacher trainings, and teacher salaries for three years. The school – in partnership with Hug It Forward – is being built with recycled materials and school uniforms (bright yellow t-shirts featuring beautiful nature designs) where designed by students and community members at the University of Nebraska in Omaha.

Aye-aye puppets L. septentrionalis project Conservation Festival Conservation fusion

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Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group

MFG Logo

The Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group unites organizations across the world to conserve wildlife in Madagascar.

Saving lemurs since 1988 by uniting organizations across the world and managing two project sites in Madagascar

IMG_1543The Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG) unites zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, universities and related conservation organizations worldwide to conserve the wildlife of Madagascar. With the help of its many partners – and thanks to the membership dues that these organizations provide – MFG manages Parc Ivoloina (a 282 hectare area) and the Rendrirendry Research Station at the Betampona Natural Reserve, both of which are in eastern Madagascar.

What lemurs species does the MFG protect?

The MFG has active research programs at its study sites in eastern Madagascar. These include research and conservation efforts aimed at the following species:

  • Black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata)
  • Black lemur (Eulemur macaco)
  • Greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus)
  • Indri (Indri indri)
  • Diademed Sifaka (Propithecus diadema)

The research activities of the MFG have resulted in the publication of dozens of scientific manuscripts.

How does the MFG protect habitat for lemur conservation?

Varecia

Starting in 2008, the MFG received funding to undertake reforestation efforts in the region surrounding their project sites. The goals of this project were to work with local communities to replant trees in a 2 kilometer radius around the Betampona National Reserve.

Helping lemurs in captivity

MFG manages a 4-hectare zoological park within the larger Parc Ivoloina, where rescued and confiscated lemurs are kept in captivity until they can be released back into the wild. MFG also actively facilitates the success of captive breeding programs both in Madagascar and in partnership with programs in the United States. For example, the zoo has an established captive breeding program for Prolemur simus. In addition, MFG has facilitated the first releases of captive-born black-and-white ruffed lemurs in the Betampona Nature Reserve; lemurs which had been raised by the Duke Lemur Center in the United States.

Partnering with the local community

Capacity building

IMG_1518The MFG mentors undergraduate and graduate students in Madagascar, teaches classes, and organizes workshops that are aimed at providing hands-on training in a variety of disciplines. The organization also works with farmers to improve their food production levels and with teachers to improve how active learning strategies are incorporated in the classroom.

Environmental Education

The MFG has a long history of undertaking environmental education projects. In 1995, the MFG launched their Saturday School program at the Parc Ivoloina, which was designed to enhance the zoo’s education programs and discourage the acquisition of lemurs as pets.

IMG_4049

In 1997 they supplemented this program by training teachers on incorporating environmental education into the everyday school curriculum; this work resulted in the production of a 65-page manual entitled, “A practical guide for the teacher: the application of environmental education in primary school instruction.” Over the years, these educational programs have been expanded to include both middle and high schoolers and even target elected officials in the local villages. Many of these training opportunities take place in the Ivoloina Conservation Training Center, a facility that includes a meeting room, library, and laboratory.

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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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Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP)

Madagascar Biodiversity Paternship logMadagascar Biodiversity Partnership works with communities on comprehensive research and conservation programming.

Supporting Lemur Conservation by believing that everything is connected, or “Mampifandray ny tontolo”

Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership Dr. Louis, Shelia Holmes and Varecia_ HHamilton

Dr. Louis and Sheila Holmes collecting data from a lemur.

The Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP) was founded in 2010 by Dr. Edward E. Louis Jr., Director of Conservation Genetics at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (OHDZA) who has been working in Madagascar since 1998. The MBP strives to protect local forests for the lemurs while sustainably raising the standard of living for communities who are equally reliant upon the natural resources. Believing that everything is connected, or “Mampifandray ny tontolo”, the MBP incorporates research, education and community involvement to achieve sustainability.

What Lemur Species does the Madagascar Biodiversity Project Protect?

Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership Baby Lepilemur septentrionalis_EE Louis Jr

A baby Lepilemur septentrionalis being examined.

MBP works across the country to support research and outreach related to several different lemur species, including:

 

  • Aye aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
  • Black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata)
  • Crowned lemur (Eulemur coronatus)
  • Diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema)
  • Greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus; only about 300 individuals remain!)
  • Northern sportive lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis; only about 50 individuals remain!)
  • Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta)

The MBP is pioneering research on the northern sportive lemurs, whose populations are incredibly small (less than 50 individuals remaining) and who cannot be kept in captivity. In addition – and together with the Malagasy government – they have helped re-establish the diademed sifaka and the black-and-white ruffed lemur to their historical ranges in the Analamazoatra Special Reserve. These populations are now monitored by the MBP year-round. Finally, the MBP uses radio collars and other innovative technology to track lemur populations; this helps increase understanding of how different species use different types of habitat and how conservation programs can effectively protect lemurs in the future.

Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership Nore teaching planting techniques_HHamilton

Teaching planting techniques in rural Madagascar.

How is MBP Protecting Habitat for Lemur Conservation?

MBP is a leader in reforestation efforts in Madagascar, and undertakes programming in west (Andasibe, Kianjavato) and southern Madagascar (Lavavolo). The MBP also undertakes reforestation initiatives in the areas where it is working to distribute fuel-efficient cook stoves in northern Madagascar.

The MBP’s largest reforestation programming is based in Kianjavato and is called the Education Promoting Reforestation Project (EPRP). This program’s success is based on the fact that seeds which have passed through a lemur’s intestinal tract grow better than seeds that haven’t; by collecting the seeds in lemur poop, the MBP has been able to plant over 60,000 trees!

Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership EPP Kianjavato students with trees_HHamilton

Students from the Kianjavato public school students with trees.

This program – and the associated community education and outreach efforts – have been so successful that they were featured on National Public Radio in the United States and in other media outlets worldwide. Moving forward, the MBP hopes to plant one million trees and restore Kianjavato’s fragmented forest landscape.

Partnering with Local Communities

Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership Member of Single mothers Club planting trees_HHamilton

A member of Single Mothers Club planting trees.

Madagascar has a young and growing population that is increasingly reliant upon the country’s dwindling natural resources, which is compounded by their decreasing GDP. Despite the precarious conditions, there is room for hope. The MBP has initiated multiple community-based conservation efforts and development plans designed to rebalance the relationship between people and the ecosystem; many of their community outreach efforts are conducted together with Conservation Fusion.

Fuel-efficient cook stoves

In partnership with the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and with Conservation Fusion, MBP is undertaking work to reduce the use of charcoal in some areas of Madagascar. Charcoal production – which causes large areas of forest to be cut down in Madagascar and is often unsustainable – is a big threat to lemur populations. MBP has distributed over 100 fuel-efficient cooking stoves and supplements these with hands-on education programs and reforestation initiatives.

Aquaponics development

Aquaponics is a sustainable food production method that combines techniques used to raise fish for food and hydroponics methods for growing plants in liquid mediums. Properly balanced aquaponics systems can provide large amounts of food, which is important in areas of Madagascar where families are food insecure – meaning, in areas where families do not have access to the food that they need, when they need it. MBP – in partnership with a Omaha-based aquaponics nonprofit – is undertaking pilot programs which will help fine-tune the implementation of this type of equipment on-the-ground in Madagascar.

Capacity building

Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership Prolemur simus eating bamboo_ BEnyart

Prolemur simus eating some bamboo.

As part of the MBP’s ongoing research programs, over 50 Malagasy doctorate and graduate students, 30 Malagasy undergraduate students, and 10 international students have received considerable training in research methods and conservation paradigms. For example, through the MBP’s role in helping to re-establish lemur populations in the Analamazoatra Special Reserve, students and local communities have received training on how to monitor these new populations and how re-establishment programs must be designed in order to be successful.

In addition, the MBP supports 80+ full-time Malagasy employees as field assistants, project supervisors, office employees, and supporting staff members.

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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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