The first ever World Lemur Festival was celebrated in 2014 from October 25-31. The event was the brainchild of Jonah Ratsimbazafy of GERP Madagascar, one of Madagascar’s leading primatologists (and one of our Project Advisors at the Lemur Conservation Network!).
The festival was successful in attracting the attention of the Malagasy press, as well as the many lemur fans from around the world. One of the big events in Madagascar even featured a video from one of the world’s most famous lemur fans, entrepreneur Richard Branson.About GERP and the World Lemur Festival
Objectives of the World Lemur Festival
The celebration was created to raise awareness about lemur diversity and highlight critical conservation needs at national and international levels. Objectives set by organizers included raising awareness about the value of this unique natural heritage among scientists and the general public, awakening a love and pride of endemic lemur species among Malagasy people of all ages, gender, and social status, improving the economy through tourism and its benefits, and promoting lemur conservation and education worldwide.
Madagascar Celebrates the First World Lemur Festival
All 22 regions of Madagascar celebrated the first World Lemur Festival from October 25-31, 2014. Celebrations included crafts, storytelling, music, and dancing.
At Parc Ivoloina
Parc Ivoloina is a four hectacre zoo operated by Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG), and is home to only endemic Madagascan wildlife, including ten lemur species. (Learn how Parc Ivoloina got started.)
MFG hosted a great World Lemur Festival event at the park. Last year’s event welcomed 200+ children, 30 youth volunteers, and two Malagasy rock stars!
The all day event included storytelling from the Ako book series, crafts including lemur masks and bamboo ink lemur drawings (which were hung in the bamboo by the hapalemurs), education team members teaching species characteristics and touring the ecosystems, a dramatic play about being an indri field scientist, and acting out the Ako books.
Aside from the creative stations, there were also important speeches, performances from musicians Mika and Pinta, and dancing. The MFG staff and event attendees were star struck by a surprise appearance from a Malagasy rock star and TV crew. After the day’s events, children went on a lemur hike and played animal games.
At Ranomafana National Park and Centre ValBio
The World Lemur Festival lasted all week at Ranomafana Village, just outside Ranomafana National Park, and was hosted by Centre ValBio, a research station operated by Stony Brook University.
A stage was set up in the middle of town for the opening ceremony, which featured many speakers addressing the town about the importance of protecting the lemurs in Ranomafana. The opening ceremony also included children performing songs and dances, a parade featuring people from Madagascar National Parks and Centre ValBio, and a basketball game. The week ended the way it began, with a closing ceremony to signify the end of the World Lemur Festival.
In Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, events were hosted by Madagasikara Voakajy, Mikajy Natiora, and GERP. An opening ceremony for the World Lemur Festival was held at the Botanical and Zoological Park Tsimbazaza, after a carnival behind Antananarivo Municipal Stadium.
From October 27-29, the Rarihasina Tahala displayed a thematic exhibition on lemur conservation, while the Garden Ortana Antaninarenina hosted an exhibition and sale. There was also a presentation at the Carlton Hotel of the book “Lemurs of Madagascar,” a book of 841 pages illustrated with over 680 color photos and drawings, published by Conservation International and the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.
Awareness campaigns and games were held at the Gymnase Couvert de Mahamasina and Tahala Rarihasina Analakely. Great carnivals at Tahala Rarihasina Analakely and the Ortana’s Garden Antaninarenina closed the Lemur Festival on October 31.
At Farankarina Tropical Park
In the villages around Farankarina Tropical Park (east of Maroantsetra), villagers gathered for the annual Lemurs Festival – featuring dancing, drawing contests, and traditional music. The entertaining and educational event, as well as the 3,950-acre reserve where it was held, is run by Antongil Conservation, a collaboration of British and French zoos. It attracted hundreds of villagers from the surrounding areas and exhibitions helped demonstrate the links between man and nature.