Primate Paradigms: In the Field with Ringtailed Lemurs

Andrea Gemmill

Abstract


This is a small sample of field notes taken while I was conducting research for my Master’s thesis at Béza Mahafaly Special Reserve in southwestern Madagascar, from July to September, 2004.
The reserve is one square kilometre of protected riverine and xerophytic forest. The forest, protected as well as the unprotected, is inhabited by four species of primate: Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), sportive lemur (Lepilemur leucopus), mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus), and, the focus of my study, the ringtailed lemur (Lemur catta). The protected forest is surrounded by a barbed wire fence that serves to eliminate, or at least greatly diminish, access to its lush flora by grazing livestock, such as goats and cattle. (It is important to note that this barrier does not limit the movements of any of the primate groups or any other animals within the reserve.) The unprotected forest is significantly less dense and has areas of barren dirt due to livestock grazing and removal of trees and brush for building material and fuel.



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