March 9, 2016
Vote for Lemurs
- as seen by -Alison Clausen @WCS_Madahttp://madagascar.wcs.org
One of my favorite parts of my job is bringing visitors to see the wonderful biodiversity we have in Madagascar. It’s even better when people have the time to travel to the northeast of the country and visit the Makira Natural Park managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society which contains the country’s most intact forests.
Makira is a haven for birders, lemur lovers, and adventure seekers of all shapes and sizes. Since late last year, visitors have been able to stay in the Antsahabe Ecotourism Camp in Makira, which is co-managed by WCS and local communities. The Antashabe Camp is the only place in Madagascar – and thus in the world – where the all-white silky sifaka lemurs and the rust-colored red-ruffed lemurs can be seen in the same forest. Ecotourism is a way of demonstrating to local communities that the lemurs and other species found in Makira have a real dollar value if they are left in the forests and not hunted. Visits to the camp generate financial incentives for local communities to encourage them to become more involved in the conservation of Makira.
I have had some of my best lemur sightings in the forests surrounding the camp. They follow a predictable chain of events. Firstly, there is a spike of adrenaline when, in the middle of the otherwise quiet forest, I hear the calls of one or more lemur species echoing through the canopy. However, their calls carry deceptively long distances, so this moment is followed by an arduous and often very muddy race through the forest, under branches, across rivers, and up and down hills trailing after an inevitably much more nimble guide. Guides use their knowledge of the forests and the trails to judge the distance of the calls and the best way to get to the lemurs before they move onto the next feeding tree. The rewards are well worth it as evidenced in the above photo of a red-ruffed lemur who looks somewhat surprised to have been caught out so easily after thinking he had us fooled.
Makira and the Antsahabe Camp have been nominated as finalists in the European Outdoor Conservation Association 2016 conservation awards. Voting runs until March 15, 2016. If you would like to support WCS’s work in Makira, vote here.