Project Betampona: Lemures Re-stocking Project
In cooperation with Malagasy authorities, the Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG), an international consortium of 30 zoological institutions, is moving forward with plans to re-stock black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata variegata) at the Natural Reserve of Betampona, a small (2,228 ha) reserve in eastern Madagascar. Betampona is the sole forested mountain range in a vast region where eastern lowland forest has been lost to cultivation. A small Varecia population, at least eight other lemur taxa, and many bird, reptile and other species will all benefit from increased protection brought by the project. Goals include the development and testing of reintroduction protocols for lemurs, and the integration of captive breeding programs with efforts to increase the viability of Betampona's remaining wild Varcia population. With preliminary behavioral, ecological and genetic research completed and most of the necessary funds raised (funded in part by a grant from the Walt Disney World Company through AZA's Conservation Endowment Fund), captive-bred animals from the Ruffed Lemur Species Survival Plan population have been selected for release by the AZA Prosimian Advisory Group. Pairs have been formed and are now in "boot camp" at Duke University Primate Center and the Wildlife Conservation Society's St. Catherine's Wildlife Survival Center, located in Georgia, to prepare them for life in the wild.
Multiple-Use Forest Study Funded in Sabah, Malaysia
Orangutans (Pongo pygmateus), the largest non-human primate species in Asia, have suffered a large decline in numbers, especially during the last ten years. This decline is primarily attributed to habitat loss, to which orangutans are very sensitive. Since it is believed that the majority of wild orangutans live outside protected forest areas, there has been great concern for the welfare of these animals. A consortium of North American and European zoos is funding a three year research project in Sabah, Malaysia to develop an understanding of the relationship of orangutans and altered habitat. To date, there has been no detailed study of orangutans in logged forest. Aerial surveys in altered and virgin forests of the Lower Kinabatangan region of Sabah have shown large numbers of orangutans. Researcher Isabelle Lackman-Ancrenaz, a research fellow at the Pittsburgh Zoo, and Marc Ancrenaz, with Hutan in France, will attempt to define requirements for the viability of orangutan populations in multiple-use forests. They will also investigate the seasonal use of different habitat types by individual orangutans, clarify the orangutan population status in this region, and provide training to Sabah Wildlife Department personnel. It is hoped that this research will provide crucial information, not only for effective regional management, but also for worldwide conservation of biological diversity in multiple-use tropical forests.
LIFE Magazine Features AZA's Species Survival Plan
The March 1997 LIFE Magazine's cover story "Miracle Babies" highlights the efforts of North American zoos and aquariums to conserve endangered species under the Species Survival Plan (SSP©). The SSP is the cornerstone of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association's (AZA) conservation programs, with 82 SSPs covering 134 species. There are 175 North American AZA accredited zoos and aquariums working cooperatively in the SSP. The Life Magazine article, written by Charles Hirschberg and photographed by James Balog, describes the SSP program and is illustrated by photos of a number of the "Miracle Babies." Among the several species highlighted in the cover story are the rhinoceros, gorilla, African penguin, and radiated tortoise. Additional information about AZA and its conservation programs can be found on AZA's website at www.aza.org.
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