The species is now known only from the south-central portion of the eastern rainforest. It is found in the Ranomafana and Adringtra forests and is patchily distributed in the forested corridor in between these two national parks. It is also reported from the vicinity of Vondrozo. In 2009, the Aspinall Foundation Madagascar Programme extended the known northern range limit of the lemur by 85km through in-country surveys, and extended it a further 45 km in 2010 when, in partnership with GERP (Groupe d'Etude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar), Association Mitsinjo, Conservation International (CI) and Madagascar National Parks (MNP), the researchers found feeding signs in the Zahamena National Park. The southern range limit has also increased by approximately 100km, when old feeding signs were found during a survey in partnership with WWF-Madagascar. Through work with GERP, Mitsinjo and Durrell, the Aspinall Foundation also found three new sites approximately half way between the previously known northern and southern populations, which suggests that there is probably a continuous distribution throughout the eastern forests, rather than the two distinct northern and southern distributions as previously thought.
The population is currently estimated at less than 250 individuals (IUCN 2008).
The species occupies an extremely restricted range. It is threatened by the destruction of its rainforest habitat for slash-and-burn agriculture, and by the extensive cutting of bamboo. Hunting in some regions, habitat destruction, disturbance, and fragmentation as a combination of factors all lead to pressure on the wild populations. Demographic factors related to small population sizes and population isolation may also impact the breeding and expansion potential, and a lot of lemur groups living in lowland areas have been found to have high parasite burdens, which can negatively affect health and life expectancy.
The species is listed on Appendix I of CITES. It occurs within the Ranomafana and Andringitra National Parks, and the 120 km forest corridor between them. However, it is threatened with habitat degradation even within protected areas. WWF is currently funding a project that will enable local people to manage the forest corridor so that natural resources are used sustainably. Several individuals have been taken into captivity in Europe, but there has been no co-ordinated captive breeding programme to date. The Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG) cites the greater bamboo lemur as one of the species they are supporting.
The Aspinall Foundation Madagascar Programme was created in 2009 with a mission to work with local partners for the conservation of threatened species and their habitats. The main focus of the programme was to ensure that effective actions were being implemented to ensure the long-term survival of the greater bamboo lemur. It has made significant progress in the surveying of new sites, in particular the Ankeniheny-Zahamena Corridor in the central region of the south-eastern rainforest, and therefore this area can now be considered a priority conservation focus for this species (in addition to the Fandriana-Vandrozo Corridor). The research group were able to double the numbers of known localities for the species in the wild and pushed the borders of the territory approximately 85km north and 100km south.
There are now nine trained teams of a total of 24 local community members to monitor the Prolemur groups, collect basic information on other endangered lemurs such as black-and-white ruffed lemur, diademed sifaka and indri, identify the anthropogenic pressures threatening the sites, and undertake immediate
conservation measures such as the destruction of illegal lemur traps. The information collected by these teams is passed on to the community associations and local forestry officials to facilitate improved conservation management.
The species was given the Highest Priority rating in the 1992 IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group’s Lemur Action Plan. The plan recommended that further research into the ecology and behaviour of this little-known species is carried out as a matter of urgency, and that a captive breeding programme be established in Madagascar to safeguard against possible extinction in the wild. It also stated that increased protection for Ranomafana National Park is needed to stop further habitat destruction occurring along its borders. There is always a need for continuous surveying to see whether the species range is expanding, contracting or being maintained at a sustainable level.
More recently, it is stated that action needs to be taken for lemur groups and individuals that exist in areas which cannot be protected, under a strict legal framework that involves capture and relocation to suitable sites, such as Parc Ivoloina near Tamatave and Antananarivo Zoo (King et al, 2010). Ideally there should be well-managed and secure isolated areas nearer the species ranges into which the captured animals could be released, but currently there are no plans in place to develop these.
In addition to improving conservation management of the sites, the degree of isolation of these populations and their associated levels of inbreeding needs to be measured, with the aim of ensuring their persistence in the wild. There are discussions currently taking place between the Aspinall Foundation and various research organisations to decide on the best plan of action in this area.
Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG)
MFG is an international collaboration of zoos and related organizations that work together to conserve one of the worlds most endangered regions in the world. MGF works closely with AZA and aims to sustain the high levels of unique biodiversity and protect the many endemic species of Madagascar. MFG offer many areas of support including protection of parks and nature reserves, field research, breeding programmes, conservation planning, education and technical support.
The Aspinall Foundation Madagascar Programme
This branch of the Aspinall Foundation is focused on working with local NGOs in Madagascar for the protection of endangered species and their habitats, with the aim of forming beneficial collaborations between different parties in Antananarivo, as well as developing a workshop to determine a long-term management plan for the greater bamboo lemur. The programme is also progressing further projects for other endangered lemurs such as the crowned Sifaka.
Only 39 greater bamboo lemurs have been kept in captivity. As of 2007, there were 22 in seven institutions, including Cologne Zoo in Germany, Edinburgh Zoo in the UK, Paris Zoo in France and Omega Parque in Portugal. There were also some in two institutions in Madagascar. All the individuals outside Madagascar are descended from only two wild-born founders.
Andriambololona, J., Dolch, R., Fanomezantsoa, P., King, T., Nasoavina, C., Ndriamiary, J.N., Rafalimandimby, J., Rajaonson, A., Rakotonirina, L., Rakotoarisoa, J.C., Rasolofoharivelo, T., Ratolojanahary, T., Ratsimbazafy, J., Ravaloharimanitra, M., & Youssouf, 2011. Gathering Local Knowledge in Madagascar results in a Major Increase in the Known Range and Number of Sites for Critically Endangered Greater Bamboo Lemurs (Prolemur Simus). International Journal of Primatology 32(3): 776-792.
Andrainarivo, C., Andriaholinirina, V.N., Feistner, A., Felix, T., Ganzhorn, J., Garbutt, N., Golden, C., Konstant, B., Louis Jr., E., Meyers, D., Mittermeier, R.A., Perieras, A., Princee, F., Rabarivola, J.C., Rakotosamimanana, B., Rasamimanana, H., Ratsimbazafy, J., Raveloarinoro, G., Razafimanantsoa, A., Rumpler, Y., Schwitzer, C., Thalmann, U., Wilmé, L. & Wright, P. 2008. Prolemur simus. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 February 2012.
Jean-Luc Fausser, J-L., Prosper, P., Donati, G., Ramanamanjato, J-B. and Rumpler, Y.. 2002. Phylogenetic relationships between Hapalemur species and subspecies based on mitochondrial DNA sequences. BMC Evolutionary Biology 2(4): Unpaginated.
Garbutt, N. 1999. Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press. East Sussex.
King, T. & Chamberlan, C. 2010. Conserving the Critically Endangered greater bamboo lemur. Oryx 44 (2): 167.
Langrand, O., Nicoll, M.E., Konstant, R. and Mittermeier, W. 1992. Lemurs of Madagascar: An Action Plan for their Conservation. IUCN: Gland, Switzerland.
Mittermeier, R. A. et al. 1994. Lemurs of Madagascar. Conservation International, Washington, DC.
Nowak, R.M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Sixth edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
Tan, Chia L. 1999. Group composition, home range size, and diet of three sympatric bamboo lemur species (genus Hapalemur) in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. International Journal of Primatology 20(4): 547-566.
WWF Communal Natural Resource Management in the Forest Corridor between Adringitra and Ranomafana National Parks
Distribution map based on data provided by the IUCN Global Mammal Assessment.
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