Ladies and Gentlemen, gather around, and open your eyes large and wide. The Lemurs of Love campaign is coming to your neighbourhood! On the agenda this month: Malagasy landscapes, round-eyed primates, and humans saving an island!
We’ve partnered up with Net Positive Impact, long-time friends of biodiversity and social justice, to help save the lemurs and the beautiful ecosystems they live in.
Green, social and positive impact
In 2005, a group of humans, led by Olivier Behra, decided to make sure conservation action would be useful, adapted and tailored to their local settings. 30 years onward, Net Positive Impact has developed 31 projects on 3 continents and 17 countries.
The strategy is to support the transition to a sustainable economic model, helping protect elephants in Kenya, provide legal support and international awareness to indigenous people in Cambodia, or introduce alternative sources of income in Madagascar.
Synergy is a keyword for NPI. It aims to build partnerships between people willing and able to combine their efforts to make change happen much faster. With this partnership approach, Olivier Behra and his teams are able to propose intelligent (and intelligible) solutions in synchronicity with the skills, expectations and realities of local populations.
NPI’s main action base is Madagascar. The “Red Island” (named after the colour eroded soil gives the streams as they dilute into the ocean) is home to one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, where 90% of all fauna and flora is endemic to this region. Among these, 105 species of lemurs which exist in the wild only on Madagascar.
These funny little creatures sport long tails, crazy huge eyes, and a well-researched propension for goofery. They are key in preserving and maintaining Madagascar’s ecosystem. As of today, all wild lemurs are considered endangered.
Why? The main reason for the decimation (that is an understatement) of lemurs, and more largely biodiversity in Madagascar is deforestation by slack and burn tactics. The downfall of the forest habitat in Madagascar has driven powerful changes in local climate, species range, and general balance in the ecosystems on the island.
Lemurs, along with the rest of the jungle’s inhabitants, have been under extreme duress, mainly due to the unhinged deforestation going on and the widespread poverty that puts (even more) pressure on natural resources. It is estimated that the tree cover has been reduced by 60% between 1950 and 2001, and an additional 30% since then have disappeared. Human impact ( land-use changes from forested lands to agricultural fields) has caused the dramatic fall of many species who where thriving less than 20 years ago.
Lemurs are social media selfie sharing that help the reproduction and food cycles of a disproportionately large amount of species. Without lemurs to spread the seeds of trees and other flora, the forest becomes less efficient at growing and diversifying. This in turn creates a weaker, more brittle environment for other species to thrive, and less niches for life to occupy.
Even more importantly, lemurs have a cultural and economic value that no other species on the island can claim. Not only is it one of the main forest grower technicians in nature, but it is also the emblematic species of Madagascar. Popular culture has taken a liking for these large eyes and funny ways, for the better and the worse. The explosion of social media selfie sharing has raised awareness about the pressure these animals are under, but have also greatly encourage illegal pet trading and trafficking.
Conservation work has to make the most of the call these animals have over the public, whilst protecting these flagship species from the dangers of being the center of attention.
What else? Well there’s also the fact that they exist only on the island, and that losing lemurs would certainly cause a wave of uproar from the powerful Cuteness Syndicate led by Grumpy Cat and baby hedgehogs.
What to do?
Net Positive Impact has already done a outstanding job at designing sustainable development models for local populations to get more from the forests than from deforestation. In order for this to work, local populations have to be involved, and actually benefit from the new model of use of nature’s resources.
For this campaign, the funds will go to the region of the Vohimana National Park, where three local villages are putting in place a land use plan with the help of NPI. This plan will enshrine the preservation of natural lemur habitat and eventually reverse the deforestation process.
The objectives are quite simple. The more money we can gather for the communities around the park, the more they will be able to develop alternative activities that steward the forest rather than damage it. This includes the reparations of essential oil distills destroyed by a hurricane last year, or the construction of a school canteen to prevent parents from resorting to bushmeat hunting to put some food on the table.
Discover what your donation can achieve on social media selfie sharing. Every help helps. Each cent that goes into this project will be used to better the conditions of life of humans, lemurs and the natural environment they live in. Humans have created the conditions for these problems, it is also in our power to be the solution. Thanks to alternative ways to capture the riches of the forest, ecosystems are able to heal, lemurs can redeploy in peace, and local communities live much better than before.
The challenge is staggering. Conservation cannot get it wrong in Madagascar. If not, we risk losing a significant part of the world’s genetic pool and biodiversity! A mission for a real superhero. Like you.
No pressure to make a donation, of course. ?
See Net Positive Impact’s call to action: