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Updates From the Field!

As summer winds to a close and the rainy season approaches, our fieldwork in Madagascar continues!  Below, please enjoy a few updates and photos from the ground.  New collaborations, gardening woes, and even a few...lemurs in the roof?  Read on to find out more.


Madiromirafy: Sifaka Project

Strengthening Collaboration, Supporting Local People for Conservation Success!

Training local people in pest control measures.

Training local people in pest control measures.

New signs announce the conservation activities taking place in the forest.

New signs announce the conservation activities taking place in the forest.

In Madiromirafy, the Sifaka Conservation Project has installed three signs to promote the Project’s activities and to raise local awareness of conservation activities taking place at the site. The panels have been erected in the Commune of Madiromirafy, at the entrance of the forest, and in the village of Anjiakely.

During the last month, the Sifaka Conservation team has also established a memorandum of understanding with the VOI. Ongoing cooperation between the Sifaka Conservation Project and local forestry authorities is important for the continued protection of Madiromirafy’s valuable and threatened natural resources. By maintaining an open channel of communication between those involved, we are able to strengthen these relationships and ensure the teams work together effectively and for the benefit of local communities.

VOI members have also taken part in training, given by the Sifaka Conservation team, concerning pest control and the protection of crops. Farmers in three villages benefited from this training ; Anosibe, Madiromirafy, and Anjiakely. Following the practical training sessions, each village was equipped with two sprayers, which can be used by members of the VOI Madiromirafy to control insect pests.

Finally, training and support of local patrol agents in the Mandrava gallery forest has been ongoing throughout the summer. In the weeks and months to come, the agents will continue collecting data and monitoring the habitat, and to assess the impact of the conservation actions on the Sifaka population.


Supporting Market Gardening in Vohitrarivo

Training in market gardening practices at Volotara

Training in market gardening practices at Volotara

Distribution of seeds and gardening materials at Volotara.

Distribution of seeds and gardening materials at Volotara.

Earlier this year Ony and Ndimby, our community development officer and agricultural technician, initiated market gardening programmes at a number of sites in Vohitrarivo (central Madagascar) and its surrounding villages. The aim is to help local people earn a sustainable income through the selling of crops. Our team have also implemented an SRI programme in the region ; SRI stands for System of Rice Intensification, and the method aims to improve the efficiency of agricultural techniques in order to increase rice yields whilst also reducing the pressure that rice farming inflicts upon the environment.

This month, the team revisited the sites to monitor their progress. In Sahofika, the 11 beneficiaries of the programme have a total of 18 vegetable plots covering an area of 54 acres. Unfortunately, they found a low success rate of crops due largely to the prevalence of pests as well as water-logging. Regarding the SRI programme, our team found the average rice yield in the region to be 3.3 tonnes/hectare. Sadly, however, one of the beneficiaries of this programme had no harvest due to an attack of Prolemur simus (greater bamboo lemur).

Agricultural pests are a problem for farmers across Madagascar, and can lead to serious conflict between humans and wildlife. This in turn can become a conservation concern, particularly when the pest also happens to be a threatened species, such as in the case of the critically endangered P. simus. The Impact Madagascar team have already started to work with farmers in Vohitrarivo and the surrounding areas, to identify and implement effective methods of pest control, for the protection of both crops and of the local lemur population. So far, 75 of the 97 beneficiaries of the market gardening programme have received training in pest management techniques. Alongside this training, a further 263 seeds, 30 watering cans and 4 sprayers have been distributed amongst beneficiaries in Vohitrarivo, Vohimarina, and Volotara.


Project Fotsife (Madena Conservation Zone)

Lemurs in the roof!

Three mouse lemurs peering out from their nest in the roof of the research station.

Three mouse lemurs peering out from their nest in the roof of the research station.

Deciding whether it’s safe to jump!

Deciding whether it’s safe to jump!

At our project site in Mandena, it wasn’t just during treks in the forest that our field team encountered their furry friends! The teams’ campsite in the Mandena Conservation Zone sat right at the edge of the forest. Each night, at around dinner time, the team would hear rustlings in the neighbouring research station and assumed they had a resident rat. But one evening, the culprit could be heard leaping from the roof of the research station into the trees at the forest edge.

The next night the team waited at dusk with their torches and headlamps to get a better look at the creature; peering down at them from a crack in the roof of the research station they saw five pairs of glowing eyes. It wasn’t a rat living in the research station, but a family of five mouse lemurs which, every night at dusk, would scuttle across the roof of the research station and into the neighbouring forest!

Impact Madagascar Field UPDATES! (Part 4) May, 2017

Sifaka Conservation Project at Mahajeby

Establishment of a collaboration agreement between the Mahajeby Regional Department of the Environment, Ecology and Forests (DREEF) of Bondolava, and the Sifaka Conservation Program

 

The Sifaka Conservation Program in Tsiroanomandidy handed over the collaboration agreement to the Regional Directorate for Environment, Ecology and Forests of Bongolava. This was very important to mark the effectiveness and visibility of the Sifaka Conservation Project within the region. The existence of this collaborative agreement allows the Sifaka Conservation Program to intervene in forest fragments in Mahajeby and to facilitate conservation of the endangered species Propithecus coronatus, protection of its habitat, and the safeguarding of biodiversity.

The overall objective is to work closely with DREEF Bongolava in carrying out a program of sustainable conservation in forest fragments at Mahajeby. For this year, the Sifaka Conservation Program will focus on the (i) officialisation of the local management transfer to the grassroots community, (ii) to initiate the creation of a New Protected Area, and iii) to promote community development activities

DREEF has shown great willingness to support the conservation efforts undertaken by Sifaka Conservation in the Bongolava region.

The Sifaka Conservation team has visited the 4 forest fragments in Mahajeby and found that these forest fragments still retain their potential for conservation; the population of sifaka living there has increased, and most groups have juveniles.

Impact Madagascar Field UPDATE! (part 3) May, 2017

Sifaka Project at Dabolava (District of Miandrivazo ; Menabe Region, Province of Toliary)

Reforestation, seedling maintenance and development of collaboration agreement with VOI Rianala in Dabolava

 

The enlargement of reforestation areas in border regions continues with the support of the local authorities. This encourages new people, who may not have been present during the first collective tree-planting session carried out by Sifaka Conservation and local authorities in February, to join in the second time around! 

During this second session of tree planting (February 23rd), about 100 people were involved, headed by the president of the VOI Rianala and the first deputy mayor of the commune of Dabolava. The villagers were able to plant 470 seedlings of fast-growing species on that day, which spread out over an area of 0 m x 70 m located on the eastern flank of the Amboloando forest. In total, the number of seedlings planted for reforestation in 2017 (with local communities) is 2,826, covering an area of hectares. This increases the area available lemurs in the forest of Amboloando to 3%, and also reduces the discontinuity of the habitat.

Maintenance techniques were put in place before the start of the dry season. In addition, we have planted green fertilizers (Crotalaria sp and Cesbania cesban) in no-till areas in order to return nutrients to the soil and accelerate seedling growth. A firewall belt will surround reforestation areas, while regular maintenance and patrols are to be carried out by the technical agents.

FInally, we organized a meeting with the clerk of the VOI Rianala to discuss collaboration, and to strengthen conservation activities in the forest of Amboloando. An 2-year renewable agreement was drawn up, stipulating that Sifaka Conservation Project will provide technical and material support for conservation activities, and VOI Rianala will ensure the availability of resources as well as the follow-up for planned activities by their members.


 

Impact Madagascar Field UPDATES! (Part 2) May, 2017

Sifaka Conservation Project at Madiromirafy (District of Maevatanana ; Betsiboka Region, Province of Mahajanga)

Reinforcing the Capacity of Local Management Committees (COBA or VOI AINA) in Madiromirafy

The rural commune of Madiromirafy is known for its rich biodiversity and for the fragility of its renewable natural resources. These resources, which include forest resources (gallery forest, dry forest, and savannah), crop area, pasture area, and wetlands, are currently under management of the Local Base Community (COBA) or Vondron’Olona Ifotony (VOI) Aina Madiromirafy.

The VOI objectives are to protect and conserve these natural resources in order to manage them in a sustainable way, for the welfare of the local population. To achieve these objectives, the VOI Aina and the Fishermen’s Association have set up monitoring committees called ‘forest police’ and ‘water police’.

The Sifaka Conservation Project supports the capacity building of the local Community Management Committees (COGE), and works closely with the technical departments concerned, namely the Regional Directorate for Ecology, Environment and Forests (DREEF) and the Regional Directorate for Fisheries (DRRHP) in the Betsiboka region. These organisations will provide theoretical and practical training to the VOI and management committees on the implementation of their activities. This training enables the VOI to independently manage renewable natural resources in a way which is sustainable, efficient and effective.

A training course on managing Associations and simple accounting was provided to the management committees,  organized by the Sifaka Conservation Project, the Betsiboka DREEF and the Betsiboka DRRHP. The rules and laws in force concerning clearing, bush fires and fishing were covered during the training. The roles and responsibilities of each member of the management committee were also clarified.

Training of the management committee

Training of the management committee

Training of the local forest and water police

Training of the local forest and water police

Impact Madagascar Field UPDATES! (Part 1) May 2017

Sifaka Conservation Project at Ankirihitra (District of Ambato Boeni ; Boeny Region, Province of Mahajanga)

Evaluating Resource Potential in the Forests of Ankirihitra

Inventory of natural resources at Ankirihitra

Inventory of natural resources at Ankirihitra

An evaluation of the resources available in the conservation zone andcommunity-use zone was conducted in October and November 2016. The aim was to identify the stock available at these sites, with a view to the sustainable and efficient management of these existing resources.

According to the study, which was carried out in close collaboration with the local communities, Forestry Regional Department of the Boeny Region, and forest cantonment of Tsaramandroso, 73 species are listed over an area of 2.5 hectares.

In the community-use zone, the forest largely comprises naturally regenerating species. The ratio between the number of small and large diameter stems per hectare suggests a forest stand that has undergone severe disturbance in the past.  The small, or even non-existent, number of stems with large diameters indicates that it is mainly large diameter trees which have been exploited in the past.  For the conservation area, the forest is largely in a state of natural regeneration. Small trees are dominant, and density decreases as diameters increase.

Project Fotsife is a go!

In January 2017 fieldwork began for Project Fotsife: a study into the use of timber plantations by the endangered southern woolly lemur (Avahi meridionalis) and other nocturnal species in the Mandena Conservation Zone. The southern woolly lemur, known locally as Fotsife (‘white thigh’), is threatened by deforestation and fragmentation of its habitat. The species, which lives in monogamous pairs, can’t move across the open spaces caused by logging and becomes vulnerable to population isolation. We are investigating whether plantations of native and non-native tree species can be managed in such a way that they not only provide a sustainable supply of fast-growing timber for local people but also provide safe habitat for these lemurs.

In addition to conducting surveys of the forest fragments and reforested portions of the Mandena Conservation Zone, southeast Madagascar, we are conducting behavioral observations of A. meridionalis and using point count surveys to assess their relative abundance within the different forest types. We will also be conducting informal interviews and surveys with the local population as well as protected area managers, to understand local perceptions and attitudes.

H. meridionalis feeding next to the campsite

H. meridionalis feeding next to the campsite

Along with Avahi, the team have encountered numerous mouse lemurs (Microcebus sp.) and dwarf lemurs (Cheirogaleus sp.) during their nocturnal observations, and a pair of bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur meridionalis) frequently visits the camp to feed in the surrounding forests. The Mandena Conservation Zone is already heavily fragmented, and the forest patches outside of the protected continue to be threatened by selective logging and large-scale forest clearances. We hope that the results of this study will be used to inform future conservation actions, for the protection of the lemurs and other species which depend on these forests, as well as for the benefit of the local human population.

Sifaka Conservation Update!

Spring has sprung!  Time to catch up with our Sifaka conservation teams to see what everyone's been up to in the new year...

Sifaka Conservation participates in the official opening of regional reforestation campaign 2017

Ankirihitra (District of Ambato Boeni, Boeny, Mahajanga)

January 20th, 2017, marked the official opening of the 2017 reforestation campaign in the Boeny region (The rural commune of Ambalakida, Mahajanga II, Boeny) organized by the DREEF of that region.  The theme chosen for this year is "Mamboly hazo, mikajy ny tontolo, manavao angovo" which translates to "Plant trees for the protection of the environment and renew energy".

Our opening ceremonies!

Our opening ceremonies!

The Sifaka Conservation team planting young plants in Marohogo.

The Sifaka Conservation team planting young plants in Marohogo.

Nearly 8,400 seedlings composed of four species (including Albizia lebbeck, Ceiba pentandra, Acacia and Gmelina) were planted by the participants over an area of approximately 7 ha . These fast-growing species were chosen due to their potential to be used as firewood and charcoal, in order to meet the energy requirements of the local population. The hope is that the availability of these species will curb the loss of forest cover in the Boeny region, whose forests are extremely vulnerable as a result of charcoal exploitation. The Sifaka Conservation project participated in this reforestation program.


Terrific tree-planting in Dabolava!

Terrific tree-planting in Dabolava!

Reforestation and Awareness Events With Locals

Dabolava (district of Miandrivazo, Menabe, Toliary)

A reforestation program is also underway in Amboloando forest, an important habitat of the crowned sifaka.  This program is being carried out in collaboration with VOI Rianala, the local population of Dabolava and the military camp of the Miandrivazo district. Awareness campaigns were carried out in the 4 villages of Dabolava in order to encourage the villagers to participate, and raise awareness for upcoming reforestation events. At each of the events, we discussed the principles of local biodiversity conservation; taking responsibility through the practice of reforestation; and in the villages of Dabolava and Soanafindra, we even organized a football competition to encourage young people to get involved!

Two days of reforestation were organized for Feb 3-4 and attended by 245 local villagers - both adults, and also pupils from schools from Dabolava and Ambinda.  Reforestation was led by the Miandrivazo military chief, the Mayor of Dabolava and his two deputies, VOI Rianala, Chief Fokontany of Dabolava and the village chiefs.  On the second day, 120 participants came from the villages of Valoanaka and Ambinda.  1,506 trees were planted during these two days of reforestation, and additional trees will be planted by the Sifaka Conservation project volunteers, and also the members of VOI.

Crowds at the village awareness event...

Crowds at the village awareness event...

The 2017 Sifaka Cup!

The 2017 Sifaka Cup!


Officialisation of the protection of Madiromirafy and its natural resources

Madiromirafy (district of Maevatanana, Betsiboka, Mahajanga)

Meanwhile, in Madiromirafy, the month of January was focused on preparing for the formalization of the transfer of management of the local forest and natural resources, and January 31 marked the official date.

The ceremony marking the transfer of management of natural and renewable resources was made on the 31 January 2017. The transferred areas comprise 4,365 ha of forest resources, fishery resources, grazing area and agricultural zone. This transfer brings together two rural communes, Maevatanana II and Madiromirafy, whose headquarters are located in the rural commune of Madiromirafy. Besides the management contract agreement, the VOI AINA, the forest brigades (polisin'ala) and the water brigades (polisin-drano) were trained in their roles and responsibilities in the management of natural resources. Implementation of the VOI's annual work plan will be further supported by the Sifaka Conservation Project. This new management contract helps protect the wildlife and natural resources of this site, while also preparing for the establishment of a new protected area!

 

Arrival of local authorities at the opening reception

Arrival of local authorities at the opening reception

Raising the flag

Raising the flag

Speeches by officials from SAFDGRF (DGF)

Speeches by officials from SAFDGRF (DGF)

We're keping the PACE!

The need for conservation education is always vital, and Impact Madagascar is rising to the challenge!  This past February, Impact Madagascar was happy to announce the launch of our own PACE program, geared towards environmental education and promoting sustainable community development.  The program is based on the Tusk Trust's Pan African Conservation Education Project, and is designed for use in Madagascar, as well as in other Francophone African countries.  

On February 18-20, 2016, we hosted a large group of students, teachers, and researchers interested in incorporating the ideas from the PACE/Tana Planete program into their own schools and projects!   

Our PACE team with their new materials, ready to launch their own environmental education projects.

Our PACE team with their new materials, ready to launch their own environmental education projects.

Great minds at work!

Great minds at work!

The idea behind PACE and its accompanying materials, is that simple solutions can be used to solve environmental problems at the community level. The PACE materials include a book (‘Africa, Our Home’), action sheets, and DVDs.  The resources cover seven important themes:-

  1. Living with Wildlife

  2. Water

  3. Soil

  4. Forests

  5. Energy

  6. Living by the Ocean

  7. Urban Living

A variety of subjects are covered, including (but not limited to) reducing fuel consumption, rainwater harvesting, making compost, sustainable agriculture, solar energy, and recycling.  This practical environmental education programme is suitable for use within a variety of social structures, and can be used in schools, with families or with individuals, and in urban or rural areas.  In the PACE toolkit, teachers, students, and researchers are presented with a variety of practical, simple projects and ideas they can incorporate and introduce to the communities in which they work and teach, improving local education, encouraging a focus on protecting the environment, and helping to preserve Madagascar's natural biodiversity. 

Some of these practical ideas in action!

Some of these practical ideas in action!

Later in the year, the Impact Madagascar team will conduct a survey and evaluation of the new PACE projects our workshop attendees have implemented in their own communities.  Awards will be given to the top participants!  We can't wait to see what creative education projects our students, researchers, and teachers will come up with, and what exciting things are in store for our communities, and for Madagascar at large.    

Teaching Art and Empowerment in Berenty

While in Berenty Reserve for the annual lemur census, our team stopped in again to Berenty School to teach another art workshop with the children there. 

Our workshop last year, a joint venture with Room 13 International, culminated in a gallery show which raised nearly $400 for the school!  Last year, we learned about the wildlife native to Berenty, and how to draw some of the amazing animals we see every day!  We also learned about our important role in protecting these animals, and the forest we all share.

The artwork was then on display as part of Art Night 2014, in Pasadena, CA, where the children's paintings were available for purchase.  All proceeds went directly back to the students, and Berenty school!

Our 2014 art workshop in progress at Berenty School!  Art supplies were donated courtesy of NaturePlay, Canson, Grumbacher, and others. 

Our 2014 art workshop in progress at Berenty School!  Art supplies were donated courtesy of NaturePlay, Canson, Grumbacher, and others. 

The Berenty students' artwork on display for Spring ArtNight 2014 in Pasadena, CA. 

The Berenty students' artwork on display for Spring ArtNight 2014 in Pasadena, CA. 

This year, our focus was self-portraits!  We learned what makes faces unique, and how to draw ourselves, our family, and our friends.  (We also made time to sketch a few lemur friends as well.) 

These art workshops are invaluable for the students at Berenty - and potentially for Malagasy students everywhere.  They are fun, and creative, but also educational and empowering, teaching children that they have the ability to make a direct difference in their world, by using their creative voice, and raising money for their village school.

We are currently seeking a space to collaborate with for future art shows, at Berenty and beyond.  Inspired to be a part of something amazing?  Get in touch at impact_mada@gmail.com!   

Our online store is open for business!

It's Official! 

 

Looking to get your holiday shopping done early this year?  We're happy to announce that the Impact Madagascar online store is now open for business, where you're guaranteed to find something special for the lemur fan in your life! 

We have a wide variety of beautiful artwork, apparel, stationary, tote bags, and more - all benefiting Impact's ongoing and future projects.  So, not only are you finding the perfect gift for all the prosimian partners on your list, you're also supporting a worthy cause.

Among other items, you can find a beautiful poster series highlighting three of the lemur species Impact is currently working to preserve:

Want to know more about what we do?  Have a suggestion for something you'd like to see in the store?  Drop us a line at Impact_Mada@gmail.com!  We'd love to hear from you. 

 

 

Welcome to our new website!

Our site is currently under construction, but we hope to have more information and photos soon of our new and ongoing projects, as well as our Twitter, Facebook page, and a quarterly newsletter with updates on our new endeavors.  We're happy to share all of this with you, and we're looking forward to a lot of great things in the future!   

Thanks for stopping by!