The island of Madagascar is home to an amazingly unique ecosystem, with animals found nowhere else on the planet, like lemurs, fossas, tenrecs, and many species of chameleons, geckos, and birds. However, most people have no idea how bad the situation for wildlife in Madagascar is. Over the past decades an estimated 90% of Madagascar's forests have disappeared and almost all of the 100+ lemur species are in danger of extinction. Every year still, huge parts of the forests are burned down, and many lemurs fall victim to hunting as well. Of some species, fewer animals are left in the wild than in zoos. Even the numbers of the well-known ring-tailed lemur are dropping alarmingly fast.
This is where our foundation Manga Maso comes in! Manga Maso means ‘blue eyes’ in Malagasy and refers to the blue-eyed black lemurs, one of the only primates besides humans with blue eyes. Like many other lemur species, the blue-eyed black lemur is definitely threatened with extinction as its habitat is highly fragmented and prone to illegal deforestation as well as high incidences of slash-and-burn agriculture.
Researcher Dr. Iris de Winter, one of the founders of Manga Maso, and multiple of her research teams have been working in Madagascar over the last years to investigate the threats lemurs are facing. Together with co-founder Jelco van Brakel, she mapped the habitat of different species in order to connect isolated forest fragments and looked into conservation opportunities for lemurs that live outside of protected areas. She has discovered many blue-eyed lemurs living in a currently unprotected area, where they are heavily hunted. We have to offer alternative livelihoods to the local people to help protecting these lemurs. Although the problems on Madagascar can feel overwhelming, Manga Maso has been working together with different conservation experts to find ways where our help can make a real difference.