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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.
Samonds Karen Elizabeth

My research is focused on the origin and evolutionary history of Madagascar’s modern fauna, one of the most unique and endemic on the planet. How, when, and from where they arrived has remained largely unknown due to a 65-million-year gap in the fossil record that occurs precisely within the time period during which the modern vertebrate groups are hypothesized to have colonized the island. My research has sought to fill in this “gap” in a number of different ways. I also continue to collaborate with colleagues on projects examining dental development, life history, anatomy and growth in both living and subfossil lemurs. These collaborations have examined life history variation in extant and extinct primates (including electron microscopy and ontogenetic studies of dental eruption and root formation), and collected data from captures of wild lemurs to characterize their growth and health in pristine forest and disturbed fragments.

Domaines d’expertise/Area of expertise:  Subfossil lemurs, Lemur growth and dental development, Lemur life history

Espèces étudiées / Species: Propithecus diadema


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. 


Depuis 1986 Docteur Es Sciences  de   l’université de Tananarive  et  y a enseigné  de 1981 à 1988. Coordonnateur du Programme MAB /UNESCO à Madagscar de  1988 à 1993  et a géré trois PCDI  : Mananara , première Réserve de Biosphère de Mcar (1988), Tsingy de Bemaraha , premier  Bien du Patrimoine Mondial de Mcar (1990)  et  Ankarafantsika .

Chargé du  programme Madagascar  (17 projets) au WWF international  en Suisse de 1993 à 1995.

De 1995 à 2000 : CTP   de  la Reserve de la Biosphère du Dja au Cameroun avec l’UICN.

De 2001 à 2003, coordonne l’Observatoire du Secteur Forestier qu’il mit en place.

Depuis 2003, Directeur Général de Madagascar National Parks,   membre du GERP et de WCPA/ UICN.

Ancien membre du Comité du Patrimoine Mondial et du Comité Consultatif International du MAB.

Membre du Comité international de coordination du programme  MAB de l’UNESCO.

Vice-Président du Comité National MAB

Razafindramanana Josia

After receiving her Ph.D at Oxford Brookes University – UK, she founded the Sifaka Conservation programme aiming at protecting the remaining crowned sifaka populations in small and fragmented forests by establishing the metapopulation management approach. She is currently leading the Environment Department at Ambatovy Company, and is also giving lectures at the University of Antananarivo, department of Anthropology and Sustainable Development. Her interests include applied ecology for conservation management and decision-making processes, Sustainable development for the benefit of biodiversity Conservation. She also believes that practical environmental education would make big differences in the long-term community development and biodiversity conservation.

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