It is hard to contain the excitement with the latest developments in terms of the Crowned Lemur conservation efforts have produced not one, but three new pups in the month of October. This takes the lemur family population from five to eight in less than a year at Time + Tide Miavana on Nosy Ankao.
Crowned lemurs are classified as endangered mainly due to habitat loss in Madagascar.
The Time + Tide Foundation team is closely monitoring the group; twins are not uncommon for Crowned Lemurs and while lemur pups have low survival rates, it is hoped that the protected sanctuary of Nosy Ankao in Northern Madagascar will provide a safe haven for their growth and development.
The relocation of the five lemurs to a 166-hectare patch of forest in the north-western corner of Nosy Ankao has proved to be extremely successful. The lemur family have adapted really well to their new home and in fact, they are thriving as can be seen from the new offspring.
Some contributing factors to this success are the absence of fossas (their natural predator), no threats of poaching or illegal logging.
The Time + Tide Foundation Environmental Team together with Odilon an MSc student from the University of Antsiranana conducts a daily monitoring programme, including scan sampling. This involves noting the level and type of activity in the group, taking photos and recording GPS coordinates. Four of the lemurs formed a tightly bonded family group with the male venturing around solo, as is typical of these lemurs in the wild.
How can one measure the success of a conservation story? None better than the birth of three new pups. The genders of the pups are still to be determined. The team is still closely monitoring the group, but keeping more distance between them to avoid any stress that could impact the survival of the pups.
Survival rates for Crowned Lemur infants are not known as there are they are relatively under-studied. The only relevant information on infant survival rates is that of Bamboo Lemurs which can be as low as 50%. This study performed by Dr Ed Louis, a noted conservation geneticist, could not pinpoint the causes for this mortality rate and it is thought to be the pressures from humans, through habitat destruction and hunting.
The hope is that the protected healthy forest environment of Nosy Ankao will continue to help the three new pups thrive.
The next stage of the conservation project is to bring in some genetic diversity by introducing another round of lemurs onto the island. This is an essential move for the ongoing welfare of the Nosy Ankao group and the producing of healthy future generations.
Every stay at Time + Tide Miavana helps support the endeavour of creating a brighter future for Madagascar's unique wildlife. There are also new treetop denizens to explore.