In the afternoon, there was a conference followed by a debate with a theme entitled “Lemurs are national heritage but can they still be protected?”. Here is an interview by LCN Madagascar Coordinator, Dr. Corduant, with the coordinator of the 5th World Lemur Festival, Mr Heritiana Dieu Donné RANDRIANATOANDRO.
Why is it important for GERP to hold large events for the World Lemur Festival in Antananarivo, Madagascar?
The World Lemur Festival began in 2014, currently we are at the 5th edition of the WLF. At GERP, we are convinced that the awareness to Malagasy people of lemur conservation is a priority and it needs to be strengthened. For many reasons:
- First, we know that forests areas are more and more in decline in Madagascar and lemurs live in the forests. If forests are destroyed, lemurs are more threatened with extinction.
- Second, for a few years, the hunting of lemurs has increased by local people for consumption. Indeed, local people have no longer enough food and that’s why they have to hunt lemurs to live.
- Third, there are more and more pet lemurs. But, it’s important to note that to have pet lemurs is forbidden because they are not like chicken or dogs; they can’t be maintained as pet animals. There is also an increased risk of disease transmission among lemurs and humans. Thus, having pet lemurs is forbidden by law.
Because of these reasons, and because lemurs are a national heritage for the Malagasy, we, in GERP, are convinced that awareness through the World Lemur Festival is a priority.
Today, Malagasy people finally recognize the need to protect lemurs. They should have understood this a long time ago. But, that needs to be strengthened. And that is why we organize the World Lemur Festival in Madagascar.
Who are GERP’s partners for this event?
There are many partners that have worked with GERP to produce the World Lemur Festival from the beginning to this 5th year. We worked with the Ministry of basic education through the screening of the movie entitled “Islands of lemurs in Madagascar” at the Plaza Ampefiloha. There are other ministries like the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Ministry of Environment and Ecology who work with GERP for this World Lemur Festival. For this 5th edition, our founder is Houston Zoo.
GERP works closely with UNESCO concerning the requesting process of World Lemur Day. We want lemurs to have this day, because many endemic animals worldwide have a day reserved for them. In addition, many organizations and higher education institutes attended this event.
Why did GERP target young people for this year’s World Lemur Festival?
Most of the Malagasy population is young. If we want to protect lemurs and maintain them for the future, we must target the young people. And thus, the responsibility of lemur conservation is in the hands of young people. While we will always need the adults’ skills and experience, we know young people will be the decision-makers in the future of Madagascar and their heritage. Therefore, if they understand the importance of lemur protection today, they will be the first who want to protect lemurs and raise awareness in the future.
The young people are the decision-makers tomorrow and thus they need to understand the importance of lemur protection from their youth.
What were some of achievements of this World Lemur Festival in Antananarivo?
We had a variety of successes. But, the most important were the events organized in regions throughout Madagascar. At first, the World Lemur Festival was only held in Antananarivo, but now this event is spreading to other regions.
Currently, there is also a “Bandro Festival” in Alaotra. Also, there is an “Indri Festival” in Andasibe and an “Akomba festival” in the North, Diego-Suárez.
We know that, abroad, many organizations celebrate the World Lemur Festival and it is only Madagascar that has lemurs. Why aren’t we greatly organizing this event?
What would you like our readers to know?
Lemurs are our national heritage in Madagascar. Other countries have their endemic animals that they are proud of. In Madagascar, we have Lemurs that are unique worldwide. However, we know, they are threatened.
Thus, let’s give an important place to lemurs when we talk about Madagascar. If we don’t want to protect lemurs now, when all lemurs become extinct, are we going to blame each other?
Learn about More WLF Events