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When Endangered Lemurs Need a Home, This Is What You Build

Critically Endangered Nosy Be sportive lemurs quickly moved into their new homes. (Photos by Valerie C. Clark)
Shrinking and degraded forests in Madagascar have left sportive lemurs homeless without their tree-hole sleeping spots, so the i.F.r.o.g.s. team came up with a “constructive solution.” (Photos by Georgia Lorenti, left, and Valerie C. Clark, right)

By Drs. Valerie C. Clark and Patricia C. Wright of i.F.r.o.g.s.

With forest destruction rampant in Madagascar, finding a good home is difficult for Nosy Be sportive lemurs.

These nocturnal primates prefer spacious tree-hole housing to protect them from predators as they sleep all day, but big trees containing tree-holes are rare in degraded forests. Being critically endangered, it’s important to the lemurs’ survival to raise their infants with a nice standard of living—the next step after critically endangered is “extinct in the wild!”

A Nosy Be sportive lemur clings to a traveller’s palm during the day in degraded forests (left), exposed to predators like buzzards that fly in from Lokobe National Park (right). (Photos by Valerie C. Clark)
A Nosy Be sportive lemur clings to a traveller’s palm during the day in degraded forests (left),
exposed to predators like buzzards that fly in from Lokobe National Park (right). (Photos by Valerie C. Clark)
Sportive lemurs are active at night (left) and try to hide to sleep during the day (right). (Photos by Valerie C. Clark)
Sportive lemurs are active at night (left) and try to hide to sleep during the day (right). (Photos by Valerie C. Clark)

To address this housing crisis, the Indigenous Forest Research Organization for Global Sustainability (i.F.r.o.g.s.) team including local Malagasy naturalists tried an experiment. We constructed 25 wooden day-resting boxes to serve as tree holes in degraded forests to the east of Lokobe National Park in northwestern Madagascar.

In August 2015, Dr. Clark and her team installed 25 day-resting boxes for lemurs. (Photos by Valerie C. Clark)
In August 2015, Dr. Clark and her team installed 25 day-resting boxes for lemurs. (Photos by Valerie C. Clark)

Within a week the bright-eyed lemurs already started to move in, and within two months more than a third of the houses were occupied! The fact that mother lemurs with babies moved in bodes well for the project and the continuation of this critically endangered species.

(Photo by Valerie C. Clark)
The Nosy Be Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur tymerlachsoni) was discovered as a new species in 2006 from only ten individuals. (Photo by Valerie C. Clark)

Our team plans to build more lemur housing to bring this species back from the brink. We can build a box for just $25, and it only takes $70 per month to hire a “Lemur Ranger” to keep the boxes rat-free and lemur-ready, while keeping scientific notes on the lemur tenants. Donate at iFrogs.net and help lemurs to always have a home in which to survive and thrive in their tropical paradise.

 Lemur Team! Left to Right: Georgia Lorenti, Dr. Valerie Clark, Daniel Turner, Joel Didi, and Anoir Ali. Joel and Anoir live in the area and were trained in scientific methods by i.F.r.o.g.s. (Photo by Valerie C. Clark)
Lemur Team! Left to Right: Georgia Lorenti, Dr. Valerie Clark, Daniel Turner, Joel Didi, and Anoir Ali. Joel and Anoir live in the area and were trained in scientific methods by i.F.r.o.g.s. (Photo by Valerie C. Clark)

Funded by the National Geographic Society

Read More About Valerie C. Clark’s Work

 

Comments

  1. Valerie C. Clark
    January 2, 8:07 pm

    Hi Jordi, We plan to build a Sambirano native trees nursery, and need to identify a the trees species that we see forming tree-holes in Nosy Be. I’ll email you so that we might coordinate some efforts! Many thanks, great link! ~Val

  2. Jordi Salmona
    Portugal
    December 31, 2015, 6:47 am

    Hey Valerie,
    Nice project, would be happy to meet you to discuss about our respective project if the occasion appears.
    Have you considered planting hollow forming tree in complement. See below a potential candidate.
    http://journalmcd.com/index.php/mcd/article/view/mcd.v10i2.3