Project History & Aims
GERP (Groupe d’étude et de recherche sur les primates) is an association based in Madagascar with nearly 200 members, including scientists and primatologists. Its purpose is centred on the conservation of Madagascar’s lemurs, and since its inception, it has focused heavily on working with local communities in Madagascar to effect change.
Sambirano Grey Gentle Lemur In Situ Survey
For the last five years Banham Zoo has provided funding for important research work to help establish the conservation needs of the wild Sambirano bamboo lemur (Hapalemur occidentalis), a species we keep and breed at Banham Zoo.
This lemur occurs from the north area of Madagascar to the east coast of the island but little is known about the ecology and behaviour of this species.
The project objective for 2014/15 was to determine the actual range of Hapalemur occidentalis in the northeast and east of Madagascar to determine conservation actions for this species threatened by hunting and constant reduction of its habitat.
Initially literature reviews and village interviews helped target the 16 sites chosen to survey. 26 individuals over five groups were observed directly in the study and traces of faeces and feeding were found in other sites also. Faecal samples were unfortunately unable to be collected due to unfavourable weather conditions and short observation time when groups were found. Habitat quality and vegetation was characterized as part of the survey and disturbances, threats and pressures on lemurs and particularly Hapalemur occidentalis were either observed directly or determined from questionnaires used for guides and local people. This lemur is relatively easy to observe and from both this survey and local questionnaires, almost all of these sites are populated by bamboo lemurs, but due to the increase demand for bamboo from these areas (high human demography) the lemurs are highly threatened.
The main pressures and threats to the survival of this species are human-led pressures. The practice of Tavy
(a traditional Malagasy method of slash-and-burn agriculture) and illegal logging is prevalent at all sites including within protected areas. Hunting is reduced within and around the protected areas, but traps were found elsewhere and during the survey, the researchers arrived at the commune of Anjahambe where three Hapalemur occidentalis had already been captured by villagers and prepared ready for eating.
Three sites were identified as high priority sites for strong conservation actions, with characteristics and potential highlighted.
How is Banham Zoo supporting this project?
In 2015 Banham Zoo donated £1000 to the SAMBRIANO GREY GENTLE LEMUR IN SITU SURVEY.
A total of £8,000 has been donated by Banham Zoo since 2011.
For more information go to: www.gerp.mg.