In October of 2017, the Time + Tide Foundation undertook a lemur relocation with the goal of moving animals from an area of high poaching to the protected sanctuary of Nosy Ankao. Partnering with local authorities and conservation groups based in Madagascar and abroad, five endangered crowned lemurs were located and carefully captured in the Bekaraoka Forest and translocated to the island. In total, the conspiracy (the plural name for a group of lemurs) comprised two males (one adult, one juvenile), two females (one adult, one juvenile) and one male infant. The plan had originally been to get four adults or juveniles, but upon capturing the adult female, a sweet little infant was found nestled into her chest, bringing the total to five.
In the year since the lemurs arrived onto Nosy Ankao, they have adapted beautifully to their new home, a 166-hectare patch of forest in the north-western corner of the island. Without the threats of poaching, illegal logging or fossas (their natural predator), the group has been thriving. The TTF Environmental Team and Odilon, a MSc student from University of Antsiranana, conduct a daily monitoring programme involving the scan sampling methodology. This involves noting the type and level of activities in the group, collecting GPS coordinates and taking photos. Four of them have formed a tightly bonded family group since arriving, with the adult male living solo, as is typical in the wild.
In the truest testament to a successful conservation project, the lemurs have mated and produced not just one, but three new lemur pups! The first pup was born on 25 October and four days later on 29 October, a set of twins were born. The genders of the pups are still to be determined. Though being closely monitored by our team, the mothers are being given ample space to raise their little ones in an effort to prevent any stress that could impact the pups’ survival.
Lemurs as a whole are still relatively under-studied, so exact survival rates for crowned lemur infants are not known. Dr Ed Louis, a noted conservation geneticist, has stated that infant survivability of the closely related bamboo lemurs can be as low as 50%. Though the cause of this has not yet been pinpointed, pressures from humans – habitat destruction, hunting, etc – are thought to be the leading causes. It is hoped that in the protected and healthy forests of Nosy Ankao, all three pups will continue to thrive.
The next stage in the TTF’s lemur conservation efforts is to translocate another round of lemurs onto the island. This is an essential move for the ongoing welfare of the Nosy Ankao group if there is to be enough genetic diversity to produce healthy future generations. Every stay at Time + Tide Miavana helps support our endeavour to create a brighter future for Madagascar’s extraordinary wildlife.
Come, join us on the island and see our newest treetop denizens for yourself!