Madagascar is considered one of the most diverse and ecologically important biodiversity hot spots in the world. Such areas have unique plants and animals can not be found anywhere else and whose very existence are under threat. Sadly, Madagascar has a history of the agricultural practice of tavy (slash and burn farming), mining, illegal logging and poaching, all of which have resulted in the loss of over 50% of Madagascar’s original forest since the 1950’s. An overwhelming majority of animals are now on the lists of Endangered and Critically Endangered species. Over 90% of all lemurs are listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable. For these threatened species to survive, local communities must be empowered to actively engage in conservation.
Establish a research program that is grounded in community-based conservation and education.
Why is Madagascar in trouble?
Madagascar is considered one of the most diverse and ecologically important biodiversity hot spots in the world.
How the MBP was Established
Dr. Edward Louis Jr., Director of the Conservation Genetics Department at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (OHDZA), has been working in Madagascar since 1998. The focus of the program has been to develop baseline molecular genetics and distribution data on Malagasy flora and fauna with an emphasis on lemur species. Since the onset of OHDZA’s involvement in Madagascar, this conservation research effort has produced over 180 scientific publications including manuscripts describing 23 new species of lemur and elevating eight others to species level.
In 2010, Dr. Louis established the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP), a Malagasy non-governmental organization, as an extension of the innovative conservation projects throughout the country. Together, MBP and OHDZA strive to protect local forests for the wildlife while ecologically and environmentally raising the standard of living for thousands of people who are equally reliant upon the natural resources. Believing that everything is connected, or “Mampifandray ny tontolo”, MBP and OHDZA incorporates research, education and community involvement to achieve sustainability. This multifaceted program was recognized for its efforts with the 2010 Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ International Conservation Award.
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