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A national survey of household pet lemur ownership in Madagascar

Primates are extracted from the wild for the pet trade across the world. In Madagascar, lemurs are kept as illegal pets and an understanding of lemur pet ownership at the national level is lacking. In 2013 and 2016, we undertook a national survey in 11 of Madagascar’s 22 administrative regions (n = 28 towns) with 1,709 households. To our knowledge, this is the first national survey of the household ownership of pet primates in a country where they are endemic. In the 1.5 years prior to being surveyed, 8% ± 4% (towns as replicates) of respondents had seen a captive lemur while a further 0.7% ± 0.5% of respondents had owned one personally. We estimate that 33,428 ± 24,846 lemurs were kept in Malagasy households in the six months prior to our survey efforts, with 18,462 ± 12,963 of these pet lemurs estimated in urban household alone. Rates of lemur ownership did not differ by province but increased with the human population of a town and with the popularity of the town on Flickr (a proxy indicator for tourism). We found that the visibility of pet lemur ownership did not differ across the country, but it did increase with the size of the town and popularity with tourists. Areas with visible pet lemurs were not always the areas with the highest rates of pet lemur ownership, highlighting that many pet lemurs are hidden from the general public. Our study highlights the need for conservation programs to consider both the proportion of inhabitants that own pet lemurs and the total number of lemurs that are potentially being kept as pets in those towns. We close by noting that for some species, even just a small amount of localized live extraction for pet ownership could be enough to cause localized population extinctions over time. Moreover, an urgent response is needed to combat a recent and alarming rise in illegal exploitation of biodiversity across Madagascar.
Experts
RAKOTONDRAVONY Romule

Initié sur les principales méthodes d’études sur terrains sur lémuriens dans le centre de recherche de DPZ dans la forêt de Kirindy Morondava, je me suis intéressé depuis 1998 aux comportements, biogéographie et conservation des lémuriens. Avant et après mon DEA (Master) portant sur « la locomotion et l’utilisation de l’habitat par Propithecus verreauxi de la forêt de Kirindy Morondava » en 1999, et mon Doctorat sur « la biogéographie des microcèbes à travers le PN Ankarafantsika » en 2003-2007, j’ai participé à des suivis écologiques, inventaires de lémuriens dans diverses forêts, notamment au Nord-est, Est, Centre, Ouest et Nord-ouest de Madagascar. Dernièrement, du 2009 au 2017, j’ai effectué le suivi de lémuriens dans le site minier d’Ambatovy Moramanga. Parallèlement, j’ai travaillé en tant qu’enseignant permanent à la Faculté des Sciences, de Technologies et de l’Environnement de l’Université des Mahajanga, là où j’ai encadré principalement des étudiants en Master travaillant sur les lémuriens.

Experts
RATSIMBAZAFY Jonah

Jonah Ratsimbazafy is a native of Madagascar. He received his PhD in Physical Anthropology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is currently the Secretary General of the Madagascar Non-human Primate Group (GERP) and the Director of the Houston Zoo Madagascar Programs. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Sciences and the Department of Medicine veterinary at the University of Antananarivo. His research interests include primate behavior and ecology. From 2006 to 2008, he was the Vice-President of the International Primatological Society for Conservation. He was the PI of the Project Lemurs and Forests of Madagascar funded by Earthwatch Institute. Currently, he is a co-Vice-Chair of the IUCN/SSC Specialist Group- Madagascar and counselor of the Lemur Conservation Network. Pr Ratsimbazafy leads Madagascar in biodiversity conservation. He is a prominent Malagasy primatologist and advocate spoker of lemur conservation. He has published more than 170 scientific publications (see his CV). For instance, he co-authored the 2nd and 3rd edition of the Field Guide Series: Lemurs of Madagascar. Since 2006, he is co-editors of the Lemur News journal. He continues to publish research papers. Ratsimbazafy’s most recent book entitled "Vatsin'ny Mpikaroka", which means Guidelines/Instructions for researchers" is an extraordinary inspiration for Malagasy to follow in Jonah’s footsteps.  His legacy will live on for Malagasy far into the future. Jonah Ratsimbazafy is a world class leader in primatology. He leads a new generation of primatologists. He has attended International Meetings in Japan, Vietnam, the United States, and Uganda, and given outstanding presentations. He represents Madagascar throughout the world. His success as an international primatologist and conservationist is renowned and this book represents his hard work, fine research and good deeds. In August 2013, Professor Ratsimbazafy co-organized the 5th International Prosimian Congress at Centre Valbio, Ranomafana - Madagascar. Madagascar's biodiversity is unique, but it is facing tremendous pressures due to deforestation/hunting. As a result, many species are currently on the verge of extinction. 

Experts
RANAIVOARISOA Jean Freddy


Experts
Razafindratsima Onja

Dr. Onja H. Razafindratsima is an ecologist dedicated to the study of the processes and mechanisms that determine the structure and diversity of ecological communities in natural and human-modified environments. Some of her recent research focused on understanding the importance of seed dispersal by lemur frugivores in structuring plant communities in Malagasy rain forests, and the consequences of lemur loss on forest integrity and human wellbeing. She also investigates how past extinction of lemurs in the Holocene influence the structure of present-day lemur communities and how these patterns of extinctions relates to current extinction threats to improve predictions of future species declines and guide conservation efforts of these highly threatened taxa.

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