A large island nation (bigger than California or France) off the southeast coast of Africa, Madagascar is one of the world’s hottest biodiversity hotspots, and the only place where lemurs are found naturally.
From LCF’s office in the SAVA region of northeastern Madagascar, staff work with conservation partners and communities bordering protected lemur habitats. Our work focuses on Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve (ASSR) and Marojejy National Park, together spanning 320 square miles of mountainous rainforests. Dr. Erik Patel, LCF’s Conservation & Research Director, manages our field conservation programs, traveling to Madagascar twice each year.
Nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, ASSR spans 108 square miles and is home to at least 11 species of lemurs, including critically endangered indri and silky sifakas, which are one of the rarest mammals in the world. LCF established Camp Indri in ASSR as an ecotourism destination.
LCF is leading lemur conservation efforts in the SAVA region in the following ways.
Overnight student fieldtrips to the rainforest
Educating Madagascar’s next generation of conservationists
Fish farming training
Reducing dependence on lemur bushmeat hunting
Restoring lemur habitat
Fuel-efficient cook stoves
Decreasing dependence on the rainforest
Public health initiatives
Providing voluntary family planning
Camp Indri, ASSR’s only established campsite
Removing lemur bushmeat traps
Lemur population surveys
Improving estimates of silky sifaka population size
Although stunningly rich in biodiversity, Madagascar is also exceptionally poor in almost every quality-of-life measure tracked by the United Nations and World Bank. Population is exploding, and most Malagasy live on less than $1 per day.
Poverty and political instability have undermined Madagascar’s environmental management. Slash and burn agriculture, selective logging of precious wood (rosewood and ebony), and fuel wood harvesting has accelerated deforestation and erosion, which in turn has altered microclimates, leading to droughts, forest fires, and soil degradation. Bushmeat hunting of lemurs has also increased in recent years due to a lack of alternative protein sources in rural villages as well as the emergence of a commercial bushmeat trade.
LCF conservation programs on the ground in Madagascar are helping to protect lemurs and their habitat.