Bringing Madagascar to Alberta! Join the zoo on July 5, 2017 for a spectacular beginning to the Land of Lemurs legacy in Calgary. The brand new walk-through habitat will finally be unveiled to zoo fans and visitors, who will be able to experience lemurs in person after months of waiting. Did you know that your visit will support exciting new conservation opportunities in Africa?
This fantastic project is the perfect chance for the zoo to create community conservation projects in Madagascar.
Madagascar is widely known as a biodiversity hotspot with thousands of endemic species, and is the only place in the world where lemurs are found! The island has lost up to 90% of its original forest cover, and habitat loss and fragmentation continue to be the primary threats to many of the 104 lemur species known to exist. This loss of habitat in Madagascar is in large part driven by poverty. In order to address this challenge, we must use an approach that simultaneously helps wildlife and people.
Since 2016, the Calgary Zoo has been working in collaboration with the University of Calgary, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, and Aquarium and the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership to work on protecting lemurs and their habitat in the rainforests of Kianjavato, Madagascar. This exciting project has three primary objectives:
1. Reforestation. We will directly work to restore the environment in Madagascar by reconnecting currently isolated forest fragments. We will be funding two community owned nurseries to help supply trees needed for reforestation, which also will create employment for nursery workers and tree planters!
The lemurs themselves are helping us with this task; tree seedlings are grown from seeds collected from lemur feces. Seeds that have passed through a lemur’s digestive tract enhances germination which emphasizes the important seed dispersing role lemurs play in native forests, and ensures that trees planted are lemur friendly.
2. Long-term population monitoring of lemur communities in the area that focuses on critically endangered black-and-white ruffed lemurs. Other lemur species in this landscape include critically endangered greater bamboo lemurs, and the endangered aye-aye. Financial support by the Calgary Zoo ensures local capacity building by providing for the salaries of four local field technicians, as well as the basic living costs of two international research volunteers annually.
Monitoring activities provide baseline data for measuring future successes of the conservation initiative, and are also crucial in deterring poachers and other infractions destructive to lemurs or their habitat.
3. Improving livelihoods and promoting green technologies in local communities to create sustainable links between conservation and human successes. How will we accomplish this? We fund ‘green’ technology items such as solar lighting systems, water filtration systems, and highly efficient ‘rocket stoves’, which locals can earn credits towards (in addition to wages) whenever they participate in reforestation programs.
These technologies serve tremendous needs because local communities lack electricity and easy access to clear drinking water. Furthermore, the items being offered also include devices that provide opportunities for income diversification, such as sewing machines and bicycles.
- Land of Lemurs will open to zoo visitors on July 5, 2017.
- Can’t wait that long? Loyal zoo members will have the opportunity for sneak peek! Eligible members will be able to explore the habitat before everyone else from June 28 – July 2, 2017.
Stay tuned for more lemur information to come leaping your way. Sneak peek updates will be posted weekly until the opening.
Thank you for supporting wildlife conversation and the launch of Land of Lemurs.
People and lemurs in Madagascar depend on forests for their livelihoods. We all play a part in helping protect and care for forests around the world.