Given the threat to lemurs in the wild, it is essential to determine how human-induced habitat change is affecting their health. In 2003 a survey on the health and disease ecology of wild ring-tailed lemurs began at the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve.
During this survey, a preliminary examination of nutritional and disease parameters of wild ring-tailed lemurs living within the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, as well as groups living within anthropogenically altered areas nearby, was completed. The research team safely captured 70 individuals living within the protected reserve, around and within the camp and within a habitat highly impacted by anthropogenic change. All research follows strict animal handling protocol (“IACUC”) as well as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species CITES. These studies are ongoing.
The project gratefully acknowledges the support of the St. Louis Zoo, The National Geographic Society, The Lindbergh Fund, The John Ball Zoo Society, Primate Conservation Incorporated, The American Society of Primatologists, The University of North Dakota and the University of Colorado Dean’s Grant, Seed Grant and CU Grant-in Aid.
Compare the forested areas below. The first is an intact forest within the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve. The second is altered forest for subsistence agriculture. The third is an area outside the reserve where cows and goats feed within lemur habitats.
Deforestation affects lemur feeding ecology. Some groups of lemurs now feed on sub-optimal foods or exploit human resources through crop-raiding. We are also looking at how habitat fragmentation may affect lemur ecology and health. For example, lemurs come into contact with local domestic animals as habitats degrade. On-going research will compare lemur health and ecology within both the camp and reserve habitats.