Madagascar, the land of lemurs, represents the biggest challenge for the conservation of primates in the world. The lowland dry forests of Ambato Boeny are some of the most threatened habitats on the island.
Until recently the region lacked any conservation activities, despite sheltering at least three threatened lemur species, including the Critically Endangered Mongoose lemur, the Endangered Crowned Sifaka, and the Vulnerable Red Brown Lemur.
The Mongoose Lemur is threatened by extensive habitat loss and hunting pressure, and also due to hybridization with Red Brown Lemur. Informal observations suggest that mongoose lemur populations may be declining at an alarming rate. The Crowned Sifaka is the most charismatic and visible lemur of the region.
The Red Brown Lemur occurs in remote areas of western Madagascar. A voracious fruit-eater, the species is probably a crucial disperser of tree seeds; its survival may therefore be critical for the survival of the regions forests and everything and everyone who depends on them.
The project team is currently facilitating a local community-based conservation project for the forest fragment of Anaboazo, and will facilitate similar work in several others of the most threatened forests in the Ambato Boeny region.
The project will focus on working with local communities to mitigate the threats of habitat loss, habitat degradation, and lemur hunting.
- Local people will be hired to patrol priority forests in the region, to monitor lemur populations and the threats facing them.
- A reforestation project will be initiated, as will a honey production project. Education will be a key component of the community activities.
One forest fragment will be effectively conserved by a local community association. Another three or four priority forests will be identified, and community-based conservation activities initiated at each. Lemur hunting will be eliminated, and habitat degradation reduced, in each forest. Populations of Crowned Sifaka, Mongoose Lemur and Red Brown Lemur will stabilize in each forest, and start to increase during the course of the project.