HomeDiscoveryHumanima Collection36 - Kingdom of the Lemurs
36 - Kingdom of the Lemurs

Endemic species

Cut off from the rest of the world, Madagascar is home to many species found nowhere else, including frogs, reptiles, insects, birds and lemurs.

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36 - Kingdom of the Lemurs

Episode summary

Olivier Behra’s livelihood is focussed on preserving the island of Madagascar and its natural wonders, which include the lemurs, a primate species unique to this land.

Synopsis

For nearly two decades, Olivier Behra, a native of France, has helped protect Madagascar and its endemic natural heritage, which includes the lemurs, an order of tree-dwelling primates unique to the island.

Madagascar’s people are as poor as their environment is rich, to the point that logging, vital to their subsistence, has devastated the island’s forests. Realizing that Madagascar’s unique biodiversity is under threat, Olivier Behra set up reserves and forest corridors to protect the ten or so species of lemurs. Aided by his Malagasy colleagues, he plants fast-growing trees and gets local people involved in the protection and sustainable use of forest resources, in particular to produce medicinal plants and essential oils for export.

In the Vohibola and Vohimana reserves, we embark on a lemur-finding expedition in the company of Olivier Behra and Rakout, a former poacher who is now a guide working to protect wildlife, and who knows the dense forest like the back of his hand. In just 40 years, 50% of the forest cover in the Vohimana reserve has disappeared. Thanks to the establishment of new forest corridors, lemurs can spread out and thereby avoid consanguinity. Planting their favourite fruit trees helps attract them to the corridors, even if these trees have not yet reached maturity.

At the Lemur Park, Laurent Almouric shares the same concern as Olivier Behra regarding the possible disappearance of lemurs from Madagascar. As these primates are tree-dwellers, deforestation has fatal consequences, since they’re not adapted to move along the ground. In his park, Laurent Almouric provides a haven for nine species of lemurs, which we discover.

Olivier Behra firmly believes that if we want to preserve habitats and the animals living there, we must get local people involved and develop industries that enable them to survive while preserving the priceless wealth of their forests.

Related articles
Olivier Behra
Olivier Behra is working hard to preserve the natural wonders of Madagascar.
Madagascar
Madagascar, sometimes called the “Red Island”, is the fourth largest island in the world, after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo. Located off south-eastern Africa, this land is home to an astonishing diversity of unique animal and plant species, including lemurs and baobabs, giant trees that swell with water.
Links
Olivier Behra (French website)
ONG L’homme et l’environnement (French website)
Lemurs' Park, Madagascar (French website)
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