BAMBOO LEMUR PROJECT ACCOMPLISHMENTS
The Greater Bamboo Lemur Conservation Project exemplifies what SavingSpecies is about. We identified this part of Madagascar as an area where existing forest was under dire threat. But it also harbors some of the country’s highest biodiversity.
SavingSpecies worked with the Greater Bamboo Lemur Conservation project for several reasons. First the project’s leaders promised to work with local people. The project would empower villages and communities to conserve their own forests and restore forest that had been degraded. Second, the project was helping to save the Greater Bamboo Lemur, a critically endangered species. And third we were also conserving some of Madagascar’s most threatened and biologically diverse habitat.
Saving Species took no money or overhead for its work. We simply served as a conduit for funds to support the project directly. For the donors, our role was to identify the most vulnerable areas with the highest biodiversity, and to help a locally-based organization get funding to where it would have the most impact. And it did have an impact. Read on to learn about the project’s successes in the short time it’s been underway.
Despite considerable challenges given Madagascar’s present political and economic turmoil, the Greater Bamboo Lemur Conservation Project achieved significant milestones.
- Reforestation of the conservation area — Significant portions of the Greater Bamboo Lemur Conservation Project were reforested in 2009. We planted 250 saplings (comprising 14 species) from Ranomafana National Park. We also planted 126 saplings propagated in local nurseries. A total of 476 saplings including 19 species were planted.
- Numerous saplings to continue reforestation of degraded land — For the 2010 growing season we have more than 3,000 tree saplings to plant. We’ll plant these on 20 hectares of degraded land.
- Employing locals for fire prevention — Fires are the main cause of deforestation. To control wildfires we’re employing local keepers to protect an area of a 1,000 hectares. This is being accomplished with the strong support of the local community.
- Conservation area boundaries marked — We’ve surveyed the conservation area by GPS to mark its boundaries. The delineation of the conservation area is an essential first step in getting a long-term lease from the government to manage this land.
- Inspiring engagement of local people — Seeing the success of the existing plantation, local landowners have approached us to offer additional plots of land for future planting. Our success has made local people realize the value of endemic trees across the natural landscape.
Here is the original proposal submitted to gain funding via SavingSpecies.
GREATER BAMBOO LEMUR PROJECT PROPOSAL
A Proposal from Greater Bamboo Lemur Conservation Project
The Greater Bamboo Lemur Conservation Project is an initiative of the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments (ICTE). ICTE is a 501(c)3 registered non-profit organization (EIN 1-146013200-F7 and DUNS 804878247) with offices based at Stony Brook University and in Antananarivo, Madagascar. ICTE is dedicated to research, conservation and training in tropical environments with a special focus on Madagascar for the past twenty-one years. ICTE works closely with its Malagasy NGO counterpart, the Madagascar Institute pour la Conservation des Environnements Tropicaux (MICET) in addition to several other international institutions. Details of personnel appear below.
The Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments (ICTE) seeks funds to purchase 8,100 hectares (20,015 acres) of degraded agricultural land adjacent to the Ranomafana-Andringitra corridor, a protected area already existing in the southeastern region of Madagascar.
The total asking price for the 8,100 hectares is US $494,100 (318,749 EUR). The cost to purchase land in this area is quoted at $61 per hectare. ICTE is targeting an area that links two vital remaining microhabitats (Mahasoa and Morafeno) to the southeastern portion of the Ranomafana-Andringitra corridor. With this concerted effort to purchase, protect, and restore habitat, it is possible to save a species that is at great risk of joining other lemurs in extinction.
The most important species that will benefit from thispurchase is the greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus), one of the most critically endangered primates in the world. Feared extinct until its rediscovery in 1986, the current status of P. simus is desperate. Surveys of south- and central eastern Madagascar over the past twenty years have found fewer than 75 individuals (with a recent total count of 60). Compared to their historic distribution, the current range is approximately 1 to 4 % of its former range most of which is not suitable habitat due to their dietary specialization on bamboo and microhabitat preferences. In addition, various localities containing critically low population numbers have no official protection and exist in severely degraded landscapes.
Purchase of this land would enable forest to re-grow in an area containing two isolated populations of greater bamboo lemurs and would link the area to nearby forest with other P. simus populations to facilitate genetic transfer and population growth.
The Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments was established in the U.S. to support research and conservation of Madagascars biodiversity. ICTE has been instrumental in the establishment of protected areas in Madagascar, such as Ranomafana National Park. ICTE will be responsible for transferring the funds from its office in the U.S. to Madagascar to purchase the land. This area will be implemented with a protected status and linked to the existing Ranomafana-Andringitra corridor. Management of the land will be a collaborative effort between ICTE and the Malagasy federal government agency, the National Association for the Management of Protected Areas (ANGAP). As exemplified in previous management initiatives in Madagascar, ICTE, ANGAP and other local collaborators will be responsible for and are competent to guarantee the long-term management and protection of the proposed community management area.
SavingSpecies.org, a collective of senior conservation professionals that evaluates practical conservation actions, enthusiastically supports this purchase. They consider it to have a very high potential to save many species on the brink of extinction. Moreover, it is estimated that this purchase will soak up carbon equivalent to that emitted by a minimum of 2,400 average Americans and do so for about 60 years.
The most important of the species that depends on this purchase is the greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus). Previously known as Hapalemur simus, the greater bamboo lemur is arguably the most critically endangered lemur species. Although the subfossil record indicates that it was once widespread and abundant throughout the west and north of Madagascar, the only eyewitness accounts of living P.
simus come from the eastern rainforest. Prior to the 1970s, greater bamboo lemurs were only known from two sites and following another decade of little research and much forest destruction, it was suspected that P. simus might be extinct. In 1986, research teams found a group near a coffee plantation and another in the Ranomafana forest. The inception of Ranomafana National Park was inspired by the potential to protect rare populations ofP. simus and its congener Hapalemur aureus, a newly described species at that time.
Following its rediscovery in 1986, surveys of south and central eastern Madagascar over the past twenty years have found less than 75 individuals, with a recent total count of only 60. Compared to their historic distribution, the current range is approximately one to four percent of its former range most of which is not suitable habitat due to their dietary specialization on bamboo and microhabitat preferences. In addition, various localities containing critically low populations have no official protection and exist in severely degraded landscapes. Purchase of this land would enable forest to re-grow in an area containing two isolated critical populations of greater bamboo lemurs. In addition, this area would be linked to the nearby Ranomafana-Andringitra forested corridor, which has been found to contain P. simus.
Greater Bamboo Lemur proposal (3.7MB PDF)