Lemurs love

Lemur Love

The fifth-largest island in the world, Madagascar is located in the Indian Ocean about 250 miles off the coast of southeast Africa. It has a landmass of 228,900 sq. mi., and according to a 2021 estimate, 28,427,328 inhabitants.

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. More than 80% of those under 18 live in extreme poverty, and children are among the hardest hit by hunger, sickness, and need. With a gross domestic product per capita of US$422, the country is ranked 164 out of 189.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the same time, Madagascar has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world.

The island is home to 200,000+ known species, more than 80% unique to the island. Madagascar boasts 100+ kinds of lemurs, 300+ frog species, and 33 species of tenrecs, miniature hedgehog-like animals. There are more than 11,000 endemic plant species. But the Malagasy people must rely on the ecosystem to live, leading to environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. The most critical issues threatening the region are forest clearing, land conversion, and habitat alteration—all problems tied to human beings.

Lemur Love’s mission is to “Protect lemurs. Empower women. Further science.”

The organization’s conservation agenda is simultaneously animal-centric and human-focused, and works from the premise that human well-being is irrefutably intertwined with sustainable biodiversity. But conservation efforts will only work with the help and advocacy of grassroots Malagasy organizations and people.

Lemur Love aims to improve local standards of living while preserving forests and the flora and fauna within. Efoetse is a village of roughly 800 households (4600 people) and is the nearest human settlement to Lemur Love’s primary lemur research site, Tsimanampetsotsa National Park (TNP).

Efoetse is devoid of the daily necessities like running water, sanitation, and electricity; few opportunities are available to build village capacity.

This region of Madagascar is arid and experiences frequent droughts. Food insecurity is high in Efoetse as local agricultural resources are scarce and insufficient, and goods imported from other regions of Madagascar are often expensive.

A recent Lemur Love project consists of partnering with Efoetse villagers, the Madagascar outpost of Barefoot College International, and the Malagasy Ministry of Energy and Hydrocarbons to bring electricity to the village. 84 percent of Madagascar lacks electricity, so Barefoot College plans to train older women as solar engineers, implement a solar grid in Efoetse, and create a groundbreaking community-run program where households have access to electricity.

Get to know Lemur Love

To help commemorate Earth Day 2022, we were thrilled to host Founder Dr. Marni LeFleur and on-the-ground Director Dr. Seheno for a virtual presentation. During their talk, Lemurs, Women, and Science we learned how the organization’s conservation efforts work in tandem with the Malagasy people to improve the livelihoods of the community, along with the flora and fauna around Tsimanampesotse National Park.

Presentation Slides: Lemurs, Women, and Science by Dr. Marni LaFleur and Dr. Seheno Cordaunt-Andriantsaralaza

 

 

Dr. Marni LaFleur

Founder and Director of Lemur Love

Dr. Marni started Lemur Love as a mechanism to protect lemurs in southwestern Madagascar, after witnessing deforestation and poaching of wild ring-tailed lemurs. She now recognizes that conservation is much more about humans than animals and that the historical, political, and social influences within Madagascar are important considerations to conservation agendas.

In addition to being a member of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group and the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group Section for Human-Primate Interactions, Dr. Marni is also an Assistant Professor at the University of San Diego, where she teaches Biological Anthropology. She is passionate about the rights of both animals and humans, fairness, and equity, and aims to instill these values in her students.​

Dr. Seheno Cordaunt-Andriantsaralaza

In-Country Director of Lemur Love

Dr. Seheno oversees all Lemur Love staff and programs within Madagascar. Seheno earned her Ph.D. at the University of Antananarivo where she focused on the seed dispersal of Malagasy baobab trees. She had a life-changing experience when she worked at the NGO Reniala Lemur Rescue Center, in that she fell in love with lemurs and became an advocate for their conservation.

In addition to her role at Lemur Love, Dr. Seheno is the manager of the Lemur Conservation Network, and a member of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group’s Section for Human-Primate Interactions. Seheno’s collaborative research on baobabs is currently funded by the Explorers Club Discovery Expedition Grant and PEER-USAID