Wild sifakas’ food in Madagascar, new study


This video says about itself:

Infant Development of Diademed Sifaka and Indri, Maromizahaha forest, Madagascar

28 July 2013

The Diademed Sifaka and Indri are the largest species of lemur and are only found in Madagascar. They are both classified as endangered with decreasing populations. This video was made by Jody Weir and Alastair Judkins as part of Jody’s PhD study into comparing the infant development of these two species.

From PLOS ONE:

The Nutritional Geometry of Resource Scarcity: Effects of Lean Seasons and Habitat Disturbance on Nutrient Intakes and Balancing in Wild Sifakas

June 10, 2015

Abstract

Animals experience spatial and temporal variation in food and nutrient supply, which may cause deviations from optimal nutrient intakes in both absolute amounts (meeting nutrient requirements) and proportions (nutrient balancing). Recent research has used the geometric framework for nutrition to obtain an improved understanding of how animals respond to these nutritional constraints, among them free-ranging primates including spider monkeys and gorillas.

We used this framework to examine macronutrient intakes and nutrient balancing in sifakas (Propithecus diadema) at Tsinjoarivo, Madagascar, in order to quantify how these vary across seasons and across habitats with varying degrees of anthropogenic disturbance. Groups in intact habitat experience lean season decreases in frugivory, amounts of food ingested, and nutrient intakes, yet preserve remarkably constant proportions of dietary macronutrients, with the proportional contribution of protein to the diet being highly consistent.

Sifakas in disturbed habitat resemble intact forest groups in the relative contribution of dietary macronutrients, but experience less seasonality: all groups’ diets converge in the lean season, but disturbed forest groups largely fail to experience abundant season improvements in food intake or nutritional outcomes. These results suggest that: (1) lemurs experience seasonality by maintaining nutrient balance at the expense of calories ingested, which contrasts with earlier studies of spider monkeys and gorillas, (2) abundant season foods should be the target of habitat management, even though mortality might be concentrated in the lean season, and (3) primates’ within-group competitive landscapes, which contribute to variation in social organization, may vary in complex ways across habitats and seasons.

Madagascar’s new nature reserves


This video says about itself:

Birds & More: Madagascar Safari

8 August 2012

Extraordinary place. 80 % of the species are endemic. 6 endemic families of birds. The lemurs were wonderful, so different from monkeys, probably because of a lack of predators. The “spiny” forests are well named and feature the most fascinating baobab trees.

From BirdLife:

New protected areas in Madagascar

By Martin Fowlie, Tue, 02/06/2015 – 09:47

Three of the most important sites in Madagascar for nature have been given permanent protection by the Government of Madagascar, thanks largely to the efforts of Asity Madagascar (BirdLife in Madagascar).

The sites – the Mahavavy-Kinkony Wetland Complex, Mangoky-Ihotry Wetland Complex and Tsitongambarika Forest – protect almost 800,000 ha of Madagascar’s ecosystems and are host to an array of endemic and threatened species and habitats.

From Sakalava Rail and Madagascar Fish Eagle of the wetlands, to the rainforest flora and fauna of Tsitongambarika, the diversity of wildlife is breathtaking. The list of species also includes still unnamed, newly discovered frogs and reptiles.

Combined, the sites protect 18 Threatened and 8 Near Threatened bird species, the two wetlands each holding a remarkable four to five Endangered and one Critically Endangered species.

Asity Madagascar is co-manager of each of the sites together with local communities, and has already been fulfilling this role to ensure the sites’ conservation for several years. Previously unprotected, they were made temporary Protected Areas in 2008 and protection has now been made permanent. This, alongside the development of Asity Madagascar as a strong, national conservation NGO, is an amazing achievement from the 18 years since BirdLife began working in Madagascar.

Even though the protection does not come with funding and other resources for management, these are no mere ‘paper parks’. The work to protect these areas began over 10 years ago, and management activities have shown some excellent successes in all three sites. The designations will provide many benefits to help to expand this, including a legal framework, incentives and political backing for conservation and sustainable development of the sites, preventing large-scale developments that could damage them.

“Legal permanent protection of these sites gives long term security to all Asity’s efforts as well as biodiversity conservation”, said Vony Raminoarisoa, Director of Asity Madagascar.

Find out more about the project here.

Giant lemur fossils discovery in Madagascar


This video says about itself:

Enormous Underwater Fossil Graveyard Found

8 January 2015

National Science Foundation-funded anthropologists and paleontologists uncovered what could be the largest single collection of lemur remains ever found. What’s more, they found it in a most unusual place–hidden in a series of underwater caves in a remote desert region of Madagascar.

Described as a lemur graveyard, the discovery of hundreds of potentially thousand-year old skeletons make it one of the most unique sites in the world. The finding, reported in this video, could be important for understanding human relatives and other animals and result in a totally new era for underwater paleontology.

From the Washington Post in the USA:

In an underwater graveyard, scientists discover bones of giants from Madagascar’s past

By Sarah Kaplan

February 19 2015

Not too long ago, huge animals dominated the island of Madagascar: elephant birds the height of professional basketball players, giant, lumbering tortoises, massive lemurs that weighed up to 15 times as much as their smaller, living relatives.

Those creatures have all but died out within the past thousand years in one of the swiftest extinction events known to scientists. Researchers still puzzle over what exactly led to their demise. But a newly-discovered “underwater graveyard” filled with thousands of fossils may offer a key to understanding what happened to Madagascar’s megafauna.

A team led by National Geographic fellow and Brooklyn College professor Alfred Rosenberger found three flooded caves in Tsimanampesotse National Park, each containing an unprecedented number of large, perfectly preserved specimens. One in particular, Aven Cave, is so packed with bones that divers felt them every time they put their hands down.

“It’s just phenomenal,” researcher Laurie Godfrey, a paleontologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said in a phone interview with The Washington Post. “A huge cache of fossils like this has never been explored before. Now that we know that it’s there, it’s opening up a new era in paleontological exploration.”

The researchers’ most prized findings are the bones of several extinct species of giant lemurs, ranging from several hundred to several thousands of years old. Among them are specimens of Megaladapis, a big-nosed, beady-eyed creature whose heavy, squat body more closely resembled a koala’s than those of the diminutive lemurs we know today, and Archaeoindris, the largest known lemur species that was the same size and weight as a gorilla.

The discovery, which National Geographic announced Tuesday, is just the first step in what Godfrey hopes will be a more thorough investigation of the caves. The initial sweep brought up so many fossils that researchers haven’t even begun to dig into the sediments on the cave floors. Once they do, Godfrey estimates they’ll find thousands of specimens from dozens of extinct species.

The caves remained unexplored for so long because of the difficulty of probing their flooded interiors. In Aven Cave, where the fossils were most abundant, the water is 130 feet deep and often murky.

But that same water is also what makes the caves such perfect places to find fossils.

“In a flooded cave the preservation can be just marvelous,” Godfrey said. “Nothing’s bothering them, nothing’s disturbing them.”

The quality of the fossils will be key for scientists’ research into the causes of the animals’ disappearance. Godfrey said that researchers will likely be able to obtain DNA samples from the specimens, carbon date them to see when they died, and examine them for cut marks or other signs of human butchering.

“All of this information can help us flesh out the story that we’re telling about what happened to the giant lemurs and the associated fauna,” she said.

It’s long been understood that human arrival on Madagascar about 2,000 years ago coincided with the sudden die-off of much of the island’s wildlife. Two-thirds of the species that lived on the island a millennium ago are now extinct, in part because of changes caused by humans, Godfrey said. What’s not clear is exactly how those changes led to the animals’ demise.

“You’re dealing with a situation where not only are humans coming but they’re bringing a lot of other animals and plants that transform the habitat. They’re hunting,” for example, she said, and “it could be that certain species didn’t want to come near water or food sources because humans were around. There’s competition with new introduced species. There’s a number of long, complicated stories people have put forth as to why these animals are extinct.”

Untangling those stories isn’t just a matter of understanding history — it can help with conservation efforts today. Lemurs are the most threatened mammal species on Earth, according to a policy paper published last year in the journal Science, and Madagascar is the only place where they are found in the wild.

“It’s a very sad situation in Madagascar. The threat to species is tremendous, there’s a high rate of extinction,” Rosenberger said in a video for National Geographic. “We’d like to know what the interaction was between people, climate change, habitat change … that contributed to the demise of the giant lemurs. Because knowing that might give us some perspective on what we have to prepare for the future.”

Shark sanctuary in Madagascar


This video says about itself:

Indian Ocean shark footage – Raw

11 June 2012

Here are 2 minutes of pure shark watching. Take a look as some beautiful marine life responds to researchers luring them with a bag of chum in the Indian Ocean.

From the Wildlife Conservation Society:

Madagascar Creates Shark Park

February 4, 2015

Great news bite: the government of Madagascar has created the country’s first shark sanctuary in Antongil Bay to protect 19 shark species! The law that creates the sanctuary also grants local communities exclusive use and management rights to fishing areas.

WCS is committed to protecting the incredible biodiversity of Madagascar, as well as sharks. Of the 19 species protected by this sanctuary, one third have become severly threatened by unregulated fishing.

“With the support from Wildlife Conservation Society, we chose a participatory and collaborative approach for the development of this law and management plan and we opted for the search for a balance between fishing activities and ecological integrity to ensure rational and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources” said Mr. Ahmad, Minister of Marine Resources and Fisheries at the press conference in Antananarivo.

Saving Madagascar’s ploughshare tortoises


This 4 February 2015 video from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust about Madagascar says about itself:

100th Ploughshare [tortoise] release