By Rainer Dolch
The Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus) is the largest of Madagascar’s bamboo-eating lemurs and one of the most threatened lemurs in Madagascar. For more than a century, it was believed to be extinct in almost all Madagascar, except for a remnant population in the south-east of the island.
In 2004, thanks to the intrepid Jean Rafalimandimby, Mitsinjo excitingly discovered a new population of the Greater Bamboo Lemur in Torotorofotsy, reconfirming that this critically endangered bamboo specialist species still holds on in areas where it had gone unnoticed for so long.
Together with our partner organizations (The Aspinall Foundation, Conservation International, GERP), Mitsinjo designed and conducted methodical surveys into the Ankeniheny-Zahamena forest corridor (that lies to the north of Torotorofotsy) and into the Marolambo-Nosivolo area. With the invaluable help of local people in these areas, results have since yielded evidence for several further populations of this critically endangered lemur scattered throughout these forests.
Prolemur simus research and conservation actions undertaken by Mitsinjo
– Rediscovered population at Torotorofotsy when the species was thought to have since been extinct outside southeast Madagascar.
– Conducted surveys for Prolemur simus in forest corridor further east and north of Torotorofotsy.
– Potential investigation further away in Makira and Tsinjoarivo (with Sadabe).
– Monitored population at Torotorofotsy for two years using radio-telemetry.
– Contributed to the formation of the Prolemur simus Working Group
We have also looked into the possible occurrence of the species in places as far away as Tsinjoarivo (with Sadabe) and Makira (with Simpona).
At the same time as we searched for new populations, Mitsinjo (in collaboration with the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership) radio-collared several animals in Torotorofotsy and, during two years of monitoring, gathered a wealth of data on their behaviour, and ecology that will help design an adequate conservation action plan Prolemur simus. Further research by our para-ecologist team focuses on collecting fecal samples for genetic analyses and on bamboo density necessary for the survival of the species.
The species apparently requires very large home ranges. As a consequence, the Torotorofotsy population of Prolemur simus is not restricted to the Ramsar site of the same name but ventures out into areas being encroached by mining. Mitsinjo coordinates with both the Ambatovy nickel mine and the Izouard/Louys graphite mine in order to minimize possible impacts from their respective activities.
Mitsinjo’s committment to saving the Greater Bamboo Lemur has since contributed to the formation of the Prolemur simus Working Group, kindly initiated by the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group.