In the afternoon, there was a conference followed by a debate with a theme entitled “Lemurs are national heritage but do they, but can they still be protected?”.Here is an interview made by LCN Madagascar Coordinator, Dr. Corduant, with the coordinator of the World Lemur Festival, 5th edition, Mr Heritiana Dieu Donné RANDRIANATOANDRO.
Why did GERP organize a large event such as this event for the World Lemur Festival (WLF)?
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 destructed, lemurs are thus threatened to extinct.
- Second, since 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 in home 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 and thus to have pet lemurs is forbidden by law.
For all of these reasons and because lemurs are national heritage for the Malagasy, as there is 112 endemic species in Madagascar, we, in GERP, are convinced that the awareness through the World Lemur Festival is a priority.
Today, Malagasy people finally recognizes the need to protect lemurs, they should have understood this a long time ago. But, that need is to be strengthened. And that’s why, we organize the WLF.
Who are the partners and public and private organizations that work with GERP on this event?
There are many partners that work with GERP with the World Lemur Festival from the beginning to this 5th edition. This partnership was reinforced on this edition. We worked with 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 on this World Lemur Festival. For this 5th edition, our founder is Houston Zoo.
GERP works closely with UNESCO concerning the requesting process of the “World day of lemurs”. We want Lemurs have their world day as many endemic animals worldwide that have a world day reserved for them. Lemurs should have a World day and right now, we are on step to depose the request files. In addition, many organizations and higher education institutes were attended this event.
You are specifically targeting the young people on this World Lemur Festival. Why is that?
As we know, the most of 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 taking of responsibility on lemur conservation is in the hands of young people. However, we always need the adult’s skills and experience but we know young people will be the decision-makers in the future of the country and their heritage. Therefore, if they get the importance of lemur protection today, we imagine that they will be the first who want to protect lemurs and to aware people in the future.
The young people are the decision-makers tomorrow and thus they need to get the importance of lemur protection from their youth.
What were some of achievements of this WLF in Antananarivo?
We had a variety of successes but the most important were the events organized in some regions in Madagascar. In the first, the World Lemur Festival was only held in Antananarivo but now this event is spreading to other regions.
Currently, we know that there is “Bandro Festival” in Alaotra. Also, there is “Indri Festival” in Andasibe and “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 make a challenge to giving an important place to lemurs if we talk about Madagascar. And if we don’t want to protect lemurs now, when all lemurs become to be extinct, are we going to blame each other?
Learn about More WLF Events