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A national survey of household pet lemur ownership in Madagascar

Primates are extracted from the wild for the pet trade across the world. In Madagascar, lemurs are kept as illegal pets and an understanding of lemur pet ownership at the national level is lacking. In 2013 and 2016, we undertook a national survey in 11 of Madagascar’s 22 administrative regions (n = 28 towns) with 1,709 households. To our knowledge, this is the first national survey of the household ownership of pet primates in a country where they are endemic. In the 1.5 years prior to being surveyed, 8% ± 4% (towns as replicates) of respondents had seen a captive lemur while a further 0.7% ± 0.5% of respondents had owned one personally. We estimate that 33,428 ± 24,846 lemurs were kept in Malagasy households in the six months prior to our survey efforts, with 18,462 ± 12,963 of these pet lemurs estimated in urban household alone. Rates of lemur ownership did not differ by province but increased with the human population of a town and with the popularity of the town on Flickr (a proxy indicator for tourism). We found that the visibility of pet lemur ownership did not differ across the country, but it did increase with the size of the town and popularity with tourists. Areas with visible pet lemurs were not always the areas with the highest rates of pet lemur ownership, highlighting that many pet lemurs are hidden from the general public. Our study highlights the need for conservation programs to consider both the proportion of inhabitants that own pet lemurs and the total number of lemurs that are potentially being kept as pets in those towns. We close by noting that for some species, even just a small amount of localized live extraction for pet ownership could be enough to cause localized population extinctions over time. Moreover, an urgent response is needed to combat a recent and alarming rise in illegal exploitation of biodiversity across Madagascar.
Experts
Tecot Stacey

Stacey Tecot is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Laboratory for the Evolutionary Endocrinology of Primates (LEEP) at the University of Arizona. She uses a combination of field and lab methods to understand how social and physical environments shape the behavior and physiology of humans and non-human primates. She is a primate behavioral ecologist and conservationist whose research examines the influence of climate and habitat disturbance on hormones, behavior, and distribution; the effects of dispersal patterns on male sociality and cooperation; hormonal correlates of infant care and cooperation; and social, kinship, and ecological influences on the gut microbiome. Her field research takes places in Madagascar, including Ranomafana National Park, Tsinjoarivo, and Kirindy Mitea National Park, and she also works collaboratively with other researchers on studies of humans, dogs, and monkeys.

Domaines d’expertise/Area of expertise: Ecology, Disease/Parasites, Reproduction, Social Systems

Espèces étudiées / Species: Eulemur rubriventer (I have also worked with Propithecus diadema, P. edwardsi, Microcebus murinus, Prolemur simus)

Experts
RANAIVOARISOA Jean Freddy


Experts
Rasoloarison Rodin

Rodin Rasoloarison obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Antananarivo, Department of Paleontology and Anthropology, in 2000 for his taxonomic revision of Madagascarʼs mouse lemurs (Microcebus). He has since continued to study the taxonomy and biogeography of cheirogaleids in the field and in museum collections around the world. He co-authored the 2nd and 3rd editions of Lemurs of Madagascar. He is presently the National Coordinator for the German Primate Center (DPZ - Madagascar).

Domaines d’expertise/Area of expertise: Taxonomy, species distribution and occurrences

Espèces étudiées / Species: Cheirogaleids: Microcebus, Mirza,  Cheirogaleus

Experts
RAMANGASON Guy Suzon

Depuis 1986 Docteur Es Sciences  de   l’université de Tananarive  et  y a enseigné  de 1981 à 1988. Coordonnateur du Programme MAB /UNESCO à Madagscar de  1988 à 1993  et a géré trois PCDI  : Mananara , première Réserve de Biosphère de Mcar (1988), Tsingy de Bemaraha , premier  Bien du Patrimoine Mondial de Mcar (1990)  et  Ankarafantsika .

Chargé du  programme Madagascar  (17 projets) au WWF international  en Suisse de 1993 à 1995.

De 1995 à 2000 : CTP   de  la Reserve de la Biosphère du Dja au Cameroun avec l’UICN.

De 2001 à 2003, coordonne l’Observatoire du Secteur Forestier qu’il mit en place.

Depuis 2003, Directeur Général de Madagascar National Parks,   membre du GERP et de WCPA/ UICN.

Ancien membre du Comité du Patrimoine Mondial et du Comité Consultatif International du MAB.

Membre du Comité international de coordination du programme  MAB de l’UNESCO.

Vice-Président du Comité National MAB

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