Preserving a Family Home

April 24, 2019
Placeholder image


reduction in deforestation in Makira

It’s a girl—and another girl! When Miora and Patrick welcomed their newborn twins several weeks ago, they settled down into a new domestic routine. With Patrick away most of the day, Miora would take their twins shopping for fresh fruit at the nearby open-air market. One day she parked the little ones at a leafy tree and turned her back for a moment. Miora suddenly heard a loud CRACK! She whirled around, alarmed, to see the tree falling—with her panicked babies high up in the branches, howling for help.

Wait—what? That’s right: Patrick and Miora are black-and-white ruffed lemurs who live in the Makira rainforest in Madagascar. Like humans, they form bonded family units who stick together to raise children and beyond. Unfortunately, they’re a critically endangered species whose habitat—the only place on earth that they live—is quickly being destroyed by slash-and-burn agriculture.

Sadly, more than 85% of the original rainforest has been destroyed, with the lemurs’ habitat so small and fragmented now that their population is down to only 20% of what it once was. What’s more, for every acre of Madagascar rainforest that’s lost, 101 tonnes of carbon are released into the air, warming the planet.

Your donations are helping to reverse that trend. The Makira rainforest conservation program is teaching local people other ways of earning their livelihood: instead of slash-and-burn, they’re learning to grow valuable cash crops like vanilla, cocoa, and cloves in the shade of rainforest trees, and being taught beekeeping, fish farming, and even tourism management—which are more lucrative than growing rice. Scientists estimate that Makira deforestation has been reduced from about 3,700 acres a year to fewer than 250.

And those lemurs? They help the rainforest, too: by carrying pollen on their fur from tree to tree, they help trees bear fruit, and by eating that fruit and scattering the undigested seeds on the forest floor, they help re-grow more trees! More lemurs = more rainforest, and more rainforest = more lemurs! It’s a win-win that you can take credit for. So from all of the lemurs (including Patrick and Miora), “misaotra!” That’s how they say a hearty “thank you” in Madagascar!