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Primate Conservation

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Lemurs -- Madagascar, Habitat conservation, Lemurs -- Behavior -- Madagascar, Lemurs -- Ecology -- Madagascar


Here we present information on the conservation status of ruffed lemurs (Varecia) north of the Bay of Antongil in northeastern Madagascar. Two contiguous protected areas were recently established that traverse this region via blocks of forest connected by narrow forest corridors: the Masoala National Park, which expands further to the east, and the Makira Protected Area, which expands further to the west and northwest. The two extant ruffed lemurs, Varecia variegata and V. rubra, overlapped in this region historically and, on rare occasions, hybridized. As such, land north of the Bay of Antongil is a critical part of the ruffed lemur's northern geographic range. Habitat surveys and interviews with local informants were carried out in this region to determine the extent of suitable habitat for Varecia populations, to assess the extent of human exploitation of this genus, and to obtain data on the western and northern range limits of V. rubra. Interviews indicated that there are populations of V. rubraas far northwest as the confluence of the Antainambalana and Sahantaha Rivers. Surveys and interviews revealed extensive habitat degradation and lemur hunting in the three major river drainages north of the Bay of Antongil. The recent establishment of protected forest blocks and forest corridors in the region was critical, as these links will provide the only connections between Varecia populations that would otherwise be entirely isolated in forest patches surrounded by agricultural land. The geo-referenced habitat survey and the summary of interview results provided here can be used as comparators for future population and habitat assessments following the establishment of the protected areas. A primary direction for future work should be to examine how Varecia populations are adapting to conditions in and near forest corridors.


This article was published as Open Access by Conservation International.

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