A Future for Lemurs: A Contribution for the Construction of the New Research Center
Project location: MADAGASCAR, Valbio
Project start date: February 2001 - Project end date: This project covers various years
Project number: 2000-01
Beneficiary: Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments
FINAL REPORT March 2002
The project began with the establishment of an operational team that included the local staff and the staff of the University of Stony Brook, New York.
The ValBio Center for the Study of Biodiversity is nearing completion and the end of works is expected between September and October 2002. The construction of the first building, an area of about 420 sqm which will house the administration and the classrooms for students and researchers, is almost complete. The second building, with dormitories for students and researchers, laboratories and other classrooms, is still under construction. An important presentation ceremony of the new architectural complex, with the participation of many local authorities and Ministers of Madagascar, took place in June 2001 in the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the creation of the park.
In the elementary school of Ranomafama electric cables and water pipes have been put in place.
A series of activities were organized, involving young people and school children of Ranomafama and Antananarivo. In the capital Antananarivo numerous events, seminars, conferences and screenings of videos and slides were organized, as well as surveys in the park, in collaboration with the University of Antananarivo. In the village of Ranomafama were organized various educational activities and a lot of educational material was distributed. For students, guided tours of the park and of the adjacent museum were also organized, which houses a rich collection of plants, animal photos and audiovisuals.
The seeds of endemic plants, collected by the inhabitants of local communities under the supervision of the staff of MICET, have been planted in the main greenhouse of Ranomafama and in smaller greenhouses located in four different areas bordering the park. The seeds were also distributed to villages and schools that have joined the project. Plants grown in the greenhouse were then transplanted to forest edges. The percentage of plants has increased by 70-80% and the adherence to the initiative has been enormous.
In June 2001 a major event was organized to celebrate ten years since the opening of the park. On this occasion there was music, singing, dancing and theatrical performances and an exhibition of children's works with the theme of environmental conservation and the lemurs. The best works were awarded with homemade T-shirts imprinted with images of lemurs and the logo of the Nando Peretti Foundation. This event has been reported on Madagascar's main newspaper (L'Express de Madagascar) and was filmed by the local television.
In December 2001, the Nando Peretti Foundation has funded a great Christmas celebration in Ranomafama, attended by over 1,000 children from various schools in the villages. On this occasion, pens and notebooks were distributed and the best works and performances were awarded.
ICTE has worked with the two main media of the country: the Madagascar's national television and press. Ten major television services on the project activities and a 20 minutes service on the Foundation's activities in Madagascar were carried out. These services went on air also in the Reunion Islands, Mauritius and Seychelles.
L'Express de Madagascar, the biggest selling newspaper in the country, in 2001 published 11 papers and reports presenting the project, including 4 articles in the first page.
Two expeditions were made into the park to check the status of the habitat and the abundance of two species of lemurs, the Golden Bamboo Lemur and the Greater Bamboo Lemur, which have a very small number of specimens. This research has found the existence of small populations of lemurs and some measures have been taken to ensure that these people were protected and left undisturbed.
A computer was purchased with a GIS operating system, which was used to create a database of satellite images of the south-east of Madagascar and to produce maps to make estimates and quantitative analyses of the lemur populations' distribution.