Lemurs, Women, and Science

How Lemur Love is Protecting Biodiversity, Supporting Development, and Increasing Capacity in Madagascar’s Next Generation of Conservationists 

Lemur Love is a small non-profit organization that conducts research, biodiversity conservation, and small-scale development in Madagascar. 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. Its conservation efforts work in tandem with the Malagasy people and local grassroots organizations.

During the discussion, we heard from Founder Dr. Marni LeFleur and on-the-ground Director Dr. Seheno who work to improve the livelihoods of people, flora, and fauna around Tsimanampesotse National Park.



Lemurs, Women, and Science – Presented by Dr. Marni LaFleur and Dr. Seheno Cordaunt-Andriantsaralaza

I am conducting my master’s thesis research this summer at the Lemur Conservation Foundation. What is the best advice you can give to someone who will be spending a significant amount of time away from home in the field?

Wonderful! Enjoy every minute you have with the animals. I always bring things that help keep me comfortable in the field. For example, I take and carry a foldable camp stool everywhere. This helps me be still and quiet when I am with the lemurs and they are not moving. I also keep a calendar and count down the days. This helps me remember that my time is limited with the lemurs (enjoy every minute!) and that my time away from home is limited (I WILL see my loved ones again). Best of luck! 

What useful items (devices, books, magazines, etc.) for Lemur Love’s work or Malagasy people might air travelers bring as part of their baggage allowance? 

It is actually more efficient to purchase most items in-country or donate directly to a reputable charity. Physical items can be very costly on multiple flights, and may not be well suited for the environment (instructions/text not in Malagasy, power outlet differences, etc.). Birth control can also be acquired by reputable charities within Madagascar. Thank you for caring! 

Did Richard Branson ever get the okay to bring lemurs over to the smaller islands so that the lemurs’ population wouldn’t be lost?

Yes. I’m not convinced this is a viable solution for lemurs (read more about it here), but the ones present are taken care of well! Learn more about Richard Branson’s quest here.

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