Lemurs live only on the island of Madagascar, a unique ecosystem where 90% of the plants and animals are endemic. With over 100 species of lemurs, Madagascar is a place unlike anywhere else.
In the past few years their habitat has become increasingly smaller, resulting in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declaring them the most endangered mammal on the planet. At present, 95% of lemur species are threatened with extinction.
In 2009, a military coup disrupted the already unstable government. With more than 92% of the Malagasy people living off of less than $2/day, many of them took to the forests in search of ways to support their families. Rosewood, which grows in Madagascar, is in high demand in both China and the US yet is illegal to log and export. Unfortunately, enforcing such laws is low priority given the government issues. The result is that illegal logging has become one of the few reliable sources of income for many people. Massive habitat destruction along with poaching is decimating the lemur populations.
Centre ValBio, located on the edge of the Ranomafana forest, has a threefold approach to saving lemurs.
Lemur and Ecological Research
The research conducted at Centre ValBio by hundreds of international scientists provides valuable information on the threatened biodiversity of Madagascar.
Centre ValBio works with local villages to develop ecologically sustainable economic development plans, which will reduce or eliminate the need for logging. They also conduct a reforestation program to restore degraded habitats with endemic species.
To reduce poverty in one of the poorest nations in the world, education programs provide local villagers with the knowledge and tools to improve their quality of life through projects focused on sanitation, diet and education.
Oakland Zoo contributed a share of visitor admission fees to Centre Val Bio though the Quarters for Conservation program in 2014-2015 and provides annual support to the project.
Outreach and Education
Oakland Zoo aims to use our immense access to the public to help wildlife, like the lemur. Our Teen Wild Guides offer an educational station just about lemurs, located near the exhibit. Information about lemurs and what a person can do to conserve them is included in special event days, docent tours, classes and lectures
Conservation Speaker Series
Centre Val Bio was featured in our 2014-2015 Conservation Speaker Series, raising additional funds and awareness.
Oakland Zoo is providing expertise by sending keepers to Madagascar to assist in lemur conservation programs on the ground.
Educators are strongly tied to the My Rainforest, My World program by training teachers about conservation education and providing school supplies to students in remote villages.