AEECL is a charitable organisation run by a consortium of European Zoos, working for Madagascar’s highly endangered lemurs through cooperation
with the Malagasy people.
Project History & Aims
AEECL, The Lemur Conservation Association, is a consortium of European Zoological Gardens, who have joined forces to carry out conservation and research projects for Madagascar’s highly endangered lemurs.
One of their priorities is the blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons), one of Madagascar’s rarest lemur species, and hence the species featured in their logo.
Currently 31 member zoological associations fund and support the work of the AEECL with a further 6 sponsors and partners also providing support from Europe. Such backing has ensured the successful creation of a protected reserve in northwest Madagascar for the critically endangered blue-eyed black (Sclater’s) lemur, helped research students and rangers monitor and discourage poaching and illegal logging, support local villagers through educational programmes and by developing effective fire breaks in the forest and help reforest already damaged areas.
AEECL members were instrumental in establishing the EEP captive breeding programmes for blue-eyed black lemurs, red-bellied lemurs and crowned lemurs and many AEECL members keep these species within their animal collections. These programmes aim at establishing self-sustaining captive populations of the species which can serve both as model populations to learn more about the species’ biology as well as reserves for possible future reintroduction projects.
2016/17 was really busy for the association, with work being carried out on planning and then constructing a new school building in the village of Ambinda, the education programme within schools expanding, reforestation taking place, firebreak maintenance and creation, solar panels and renovations being planned and carried out at the Research Station in Anabohazo, and a second research station starting construction.
The AEECL were also delighted to secure some grants from ‘SOS – Save Our Species’, Marat Karpeka Lemur Foundation and some private donors who are helping them to realise some of their bigger projects.
The Programme Director, Guy Randriatahina, travelled to Europe in early 2017 to spread the work of the AEECL throughout the zoo community and to update members as to how their donations are helping the AEECL to conserve lemurs. This very successful tour allowed Guy to connect with many zoos and discuss the issues that the AEECL are working on in Madagascar.
Ecotourism was highlighted as an important way forward in supporting the conservation efforts of the AEECL through the education of tourists, employment offered to the local communities and funding received for conservation activities. In conjunction with a Dutch travel company, several visits have already been undertaken to the AEECL tourist camp based in Anakarafa and more visits are planned in the future. The tourist camp has undergone much improvement over the past 12 months, including new tents, new toilet facilities and utilising the local villagers’ skills to provide services for the tourists and traditional Madagascan entertainment.
How is Banham Zoo supporting AEECL?
Banham Zoo has had a close relationship with the AEECL since 1993 and over the past 18 years has donated more than £77,500, including staff time, towards the vital conservation and education work this association carries out for the conservation of lemurs.
Gary Batters, Banham Zoo’s Director of Conservation & Education, works directly with the AEECL and holds the position of President on the AEECL board. A visit to Madagascar in 2017 enabled Gary to see first-hand the work AEECL are doing and how further collaboration and funding are needed to continue the conservation and education work. Sarah Lee, the Conservation Co-ordinator for Banham Zoo & Africa Alive!, is the AEECL’s social media assistant, ensuring news of the AEECL’s work is effectively communicated.
Banham Zoo has donated £80,400 to AEECL since 1999
Over the past 18 years Banham Zoo & Africa Alive! have jointly donated over £96,700 to AEECL.
For more information visit www.aeecl.org.
Photos courtesy of AEECL.