Improving the conservation status of lemur species in Manombo Special Reserve through participatory ecological research, community economic development, conservation education, and habitat restoration
Manombo forest is a lowland rainforest in the South-eastern coastal area of Madagascar. This forest has great value in terms of biodiversity, 90% of plants species across Madagascar are endemic of this region. It is home to eight lemur species: Eulemur cinereiceps, Varecia variegata editorum, Lepilemur jamesorum, Hapalemur meridionalis, Avahi ramanantsoavanai, Cheirogaleus major, Microcebus jollyae and Daubentonia madagascariensis. Three of them are locally endemic: Lepilemur jamesorum (Critically Endangered) and Avahi ramanantsoavanai (Vulnerable) and Eulemur cinereiceps (Critically Endangered). Local communities still live in extreme poverty. Many local people have poor access to education. For this reason, MNP (Madagascar National Parks) and the GERP association (Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar) is working together to match conservation with local communities’ well-being.
GERP leads researches on lemur habitat and population of Manombo forest since 2015. Our local guides are working every day for diurnal and nocturnal lemur survey and monitoring in Manombo forest. Our research is conducted in 2,000Ha area in the forest. Lepilemur jamesorum or James’s Sportive lemur is a flagship species of this region and it needs strategies in order to reinforce ecological surveying. As it is a nocturnal species, our guides might have difficulties on observed individual recognition and survey. In 2019, James’ Sportive Lemur survey has been enhanced so that we could get more specific information of this species. We put radio collar on three individuals of James’s Sportive Lemur. It consists to identifier and keep in sight the studied species during nocturnal monitoring.
Lemur and its habitat conservation always require local communities support as it will be long-term. This needs their initiative and approach in all environmental activities. All kind of helping hand they take advantage involve their effort and patience. Local communities are becoming aware of the importance of the forest protection when they perceive the change by their selves. GERP promotes and encourages local farming and handmade crafts by bringing sewing, knitting and embroidery training. They were also receiving training on bee keeping, vegetable cultivation and rice farming. Five women villagers’ associations were following handmade crafts training and nine men villagers’ associations benefited bee keeping training. They are already producing for local business.
From all activities that GERP has implemented in this area, threats and pressures in the Special Reserve have been decreased. The population bordering the forest has ceased using forest fire. The observed population of the three local endemic lemurs has increased from 15 to 30 individuals for Eulemur cinereiceps, 1 to 15 individuals for Lepilemur jamesorum and 2 to 20 individuals for Avahi ramanantsoavanai from 2017 to 2019. These results are reached from all education communications in each activity we lead from 4 years. Through trainings and activities, GERP and their collaborators communicate the significance of the environment to their life and their daily activities. They will quickly realize the reason they should keep their forest intact.
Our guides take the big part of the success steps of the conservation in Manombo. They are working hard every day in the forest and also stand as the first environmental educator in their village. They are the first local representative of the ecological service to their community. We are so proud of them and always appreciate their action.
We would also like to thank IUCN @SpeciesSavers for supporting this project.
Supported by IUCN Save Our Species
This project is supported by IUCN Save Our Species. The contents of this blog posts are the sole responsibility of GERP and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN.