Defending the ecosystem

An ethological research project Started to plant bamboo.

Here we are, leaving once again for Madagascar, a land much beloved by us for its great wealth of varieties of life it conserves: colors and scents unique to this world, threatened by humans who continue the unsustainable use of its forest thereby leading to the extinction of animal and plant species. For many years we have been in the south of the island with an ethological research project on the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) and the schooling of a group of 400 children (see Naturart no. 2).

Now we have joined Project Volohasy (bamboo in Malagasy) in the Maromizaha forest, located in the east-central part of the island.

Maromizaha is part of a green belt established in 2005 as a result of its abundance of flora and fauna species (433 plants, 13 lemurs, 77 birds, 60 amphibians, and 20 reptiles).

Of these, 77% are endemic species that do not exist anywhere else in the world.

Within the protected area, there are five villages inhabited by about 4,000 people, some of whom are employed in the five nurseries dedicated to the reproduction of food plants.

The forest undergoes tavy (slash and burn) to make room for pastures that produce immediate returns. Added to this is the illegal cutting for charcoal production and building materials.

Project Volohasy will plant bamboo in the degraded forest areas (there are 33 different bamboo species in Madagascar, 32 of which are endemic). Initially, one hectare will be planted, which will then be extended to ten more acres. At the same time, greenhouses will be built to produce bamboo as an alternative building and manufactured-good material. The workforce is from Madagascar only and the entire project aims at producing an economic spill-over for the local population.

Why bamboo? In the forest areas adjacent to Maromizaha, two species of lemurs live whose diet is 95% bamboo-related: the broad-nosed bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus), a species once thought extinct but rediscovered in that area with approximately 250 individuals, and the gray bamboo lemur (Hapalemur griseus). In 2012, mining work began in the area next to the Maromizaha forest, which has resulted in the displacement of many animals into the forest. By restoring the vegetation with bamboo, the project aims at attracting animals to protected areas, hoping that the gray bamboo lemur and the broad-nosed bamboo lemur will also be attracted there. To follow the animals, camera traps will be installed, which are cameras hidden in the bushes and equipped with photocells that will take pictures of the animals’ passage.

We will present the results on these pages.  So, stay tuned!

Giardino Zoologico

Via Pieve a Celle, 160/A Pistoia

Tel. +39 0573 911219

info@zoodipistoia.it

www.zoodipistoia.it

TEXT

Eleonora Angelini

PHOTOS

Chia Tan e Valeria Torti

Archivio Giardino Zoologico

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