Saving the Northern Giant Mouse Lemur in Madagascar

Being involved in lemur research since 2009, I am really interested in lemur biology and I would like to conduct scientific research that could contribute to conservation and sustainable development. This is why I decided to join GERP, which is an association working hard and intensively to protect lemurs and their habitat. Inspired by Dr Jonah Ratsimbazafy, the general secretary of GERP, I wanted to be a conservation leader here in my country. So after my Bachelor degree, I pursued my study at the University of Antananarivo, faculty of sciences and got my Master on Primatology in 2015.

There are about 105 species of lemurs now occurring in the forest of Madagascar, some of them are diurnal and some are nocturnal.

All along field work that I have been involved, my interest was never about nocturnal lemur. However my meeting with Miss Isabella Mandl in 2015 changed my point of view, I have been working for her for one year as a research assistant and we worked on the Sahamalaza sportive lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis) in Ankarafa, Sahamalaza- lles Radama National Park. One day during our night survey I saw for the first time this nocturnal lemur with a reddish bushy long tail which was the Northern giant mouse lemur Mirza zaza, and just for curiosity I wanted to have a look about it and surprisingly not much information about the species on the book.

The genus Mirza contains at least two species of small, omnivorous nocturnal lemurs: the Mirza cocquereli; the larger of the two with the centre of its distribution in the southwestern  of Madagascar and the newly described and smaller Mirza zaza is found in the Sambirano region of the far northwest and both  weigh approximately between 200g- 300g.

 

So I thought that new study needed to be done with this species for a better knowledge and also Mirza zaza is currently receiving very little attention in science and conservation. So we started to write this proposed project which is one of only a few over the last years that are focussing directly on this species.

So I applied for an EDGE grant by the ZSL and received funding for the next two years.

And as a Segré EDGE Fellow I will conduct research on Mirza zaza for a better knowledge about this strange and unique animal, so can’t wait to start over in this exciting and amazing adventure to preserve and manage the last remaining suitable habitats and the species itself across Madagascar.

-Naina Rabemananjara

ZSL’s EDGE of Existence Programme is kindly supported by Fondation Segré, investing in the next generation of conservation leaders.

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