Cacao plantations: Home sweet home for Madagascar’s lemurs?

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This publish was up to date on October 2, 2019.

Lemurs are making themselves at home in Madagascar’s cacao and vanilla plantations, a brand new research finds.

New analysis funded by Conservation Worldwide (CI) signifies that rigorously deliberate and well-managed shade-grown cacao and vanilla farms may function viable habitats for lemurs and different wildlife — a glimmer of hope for a rustic the place 70 % of the inhabitants lives in poverty, 90 % of unique vegetation has been misplaced and one iconic lemur species’ inhabitants has plummeted 95 % since 2000.

A crew from the Bristol Zoological Society (BZS) and the College of the West of England together with Malagasy colleagues discovered 5 species — three endangered — shifting, resting and grooming among the many branches of cacao and their shade bushes on 61 farms within the Ambanja area of northwest Madagascar. BZS and Malagasy researchers additionally made the primary documented observations of lemurs dwelling in vanilla plantations and located 5 species on farms grown near areas of pure forest and amid pure vegetation.

 

“There is a lot of evidence of the value of shade-grown coffee for bird conservation, but this is the first study we have that shows the role that cacao and vanilla farms can play as habitat for lemur species,” stated Curan Bonham, an funding officer for Conservation Worldwide Ventures. “This research underscores the importance of and need for greater investment to promote sustainable production systems as part of a holistic landscape conservation strategy.”

By means of discussions with farmers, the research discovered little proof of adverse interactions between the animals and native folks. Actually, the lemurs may very well assist out the farmers by consuming bugs seen as pests on the farms and in addition by dispersing
seeds from shade bushes. Most vital: Not one of the lemurs was noticed feeding on cacao pods or beans.

“This co-existence is encouraging,” stated Amanda Webber, a co-author of the research from BZS — however additional analysis was wanted, she defined, to find out whether or not cacao plantations function core habitat for the lemurs, or if the animals
are utilizing them merely as highways to close by forested areas.

The scientists arrange digicam traps, carried out nighttime surveys, adopted the lemurs on foot and used particular gear to determine their calls. The 5 species of lemurs (Northern large mouse lemur, Sambirano mouse lemur, Sambirano fork-marked
lemur, dwarf lemurs and Grey’s sportive lemur) have been additionally found amongst albizia, mango, marula and banana bushes on farms that work with and provide Madécasse,
a direct-trade chocolate and vanilla firm. ​

As world demand for chocolate and vanilla grows, the potential to enhance agroforestry for the advantage of wildlife and forests is substantial, in response to Tim McCollum, founder and CEO of Madécasse. For instance, extra advantages could possibly be generated
for endangered wildlife and ecosystems by intercropping the proper fruit and native bushes, decreasing lack of native forest and monitoring progress, by means of a mix of native information and ecological perspective.

“Poverty is the root cause of habitat destruction in Madagascar,” McCollum stated. “Any critical conservation wants to resolve poverty on the village degree. This analysis is step one in linking lemur conservation and renewable revenue
technology for cacao and vanilla farmers.”

Cassandra Kane is the communications supervisor for CI’s Conservation Finance Division.

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