Lambas for Lemurs
Lambas for Lemurs is a conservation education program created by Megan Shrum and Travis Steffens. The goal of the project is to instil regional pride in the unique biodiversity of Madagascar through conservation education. Lemurs are a perfect group of species to act as a flagship to represent Madagascar's biodiversity. In 2015 Planet Madagascar is hosting a new Lambas for Lemurs campaign focussed in remote villages in Ankarafantsika National Park, Madagascar.
Background: Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world containing one of the most diverse and unique array animals and plants including lemurs which are found nowhere else in the world. Unfortunately lemurs are now the most endangered mammal group in the world1. Lemurs and their habitat form essential ecosystem services that are necessary for the continued maintenance of biodiversity in Madagascar. For example many lemur species are important seed dispersers that help to propagate and spread tree species throughout Madagascar’s forests. While, lemur habitat form essential watersheds that help produce and channel rainwater necessary for growing food.
Tradition plays a strong role in Malagasy life. One widespread cultural tradition is the utilization of a sarong like cloth called a lamba. Lambas are typically square cotton clothes worn by men and women as skirts, wraps, scarves, and head wear. Lambas have traditional images depicted culturally relevant scenes and contain proverbs or messages about Malagasy life.
The Malagasy depend on locally sourced natural resources and have have inadvertently greatly impacted Madagascar's forests. Since 1950 over half of the remaining forests have been lost. A result of this rapid deforestation has been the inclusion of 90% of lemurs on the IUCN Red List. In some areas lemurs have been protected from hunting by local taboos but recently due to increased poverty hunting of lemurs has become more frequent.
Proposed Conservation Program: Our aims are as follows: to promote regional pride and in the endangered lemur species in a remote portion of Ankarafantsika National Park; to raise awareness of the conservation issues facing the lemurs of Ankarafantsika; to link the importance of the role that lemurs play in a healthy and wealthy forest; and to highlight the importance of the forest for human and lemur survival; and to help improve the quality of life of local residents to help foster greater interest in conservation.
Benefit to Local People: Local community members will benefit from this project by learning improved agricultural techniques aimed at improving nutrutional health. Improvements and suggests to increase sanitation and health knowledge will improve community members standard of living. Increased knowledge of how lemurs help to maintain healthy forests, which in turn yields more resources than degraded forests will help improve community members standard of living into the future.
The lambas will be made in Madagascar using locally grown cotton providing an economic incentive associated with this project. The project will employ local residents as guides and assistants that will provide immediate economic benefit to those individuals and the community. The guides and assistants will be trained allowing us to increase the capacity of local residents to implement their own future conservation education and community development projects.
Benefit to Lemurs: This project is important, as it is the first conservation initiative focused on the lemurs in this portion of the park and will address the conservation needs of the area from a more community focussed manner. Raising local awareness about the importance of lemurs and their habitat will decrease deforestation rates and hunting of lemurs. This will help conserve the remaining pockets of habitat for this species and will encourage locals to support conservation efforts of these species.