Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation

Isolated in the Indian Ocean for over 80 million years, Madagascar has nurtured the evolution of a stupendous array of plants and animals. Today, this great diversity of life is threatened, with poverty, political instability, and international trafficking all taking their toll. Yet the national commitment to expand the system of protected areas and the transformative devolution of responsibility for their protection and management provide glimmers of hope for the future.

Madagascar's National Environmental Action Plan aims to more than triple the size of the protected area system. It places strong emphasis on traditional as well as statutory law, recognizing that local communities must be active partners if conservation measures are to work over the long haul.

Since 1991, the Foundation has supported a wide range of collaborations between village communities, and local, national and international organizations, helping foster the spirit and practice of local, community- based conservation. Effective leadership is vital to these efforts, and the Foundation has funded training at all levels. With our support:

  • Malagasy staff, recruited and trained by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, work with communities throughout Madagascar to protect unique and highly endangered animal species such as the ploughshare tortoise, the giant jumping rat, and the Lac Alaotra gentle lemur;
  • Missouri Botanical Garden trained botanists Armand Randrianasolo and Chris Birkinshaw now lead a comprehensive effort to protect Madagascar's endangered endemic plants working in national parks and reserves and in newly established community-managed protected areas.
  • The magnificent Madagascar fish eagle continues to find sanctuary and breed in the western lakes complex, protected by the joint efforts of the Malagasy staff of the Peregrine Fund and the fishing communities of that region. 
  • Missouri Botanical Garden-trained botanists, led by Armand Randrianasolo, work with local communities to save precious fragments of forest that harbor species of trees, shrubs and vines found nowhere else; and
  • The Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve protects an abundance of wildlife in the unique riverine and spiny forests of the Southwest. Under the leadership of Joel Ratsirarson, who earned his PhD with the Foundation's support, a locally recruited monitoring team safeguards the reserve and reinforces the villagers' own efforts to conserve their forests and enhance the basic provisions for their lives.

Related Links


Madagascar's Lemurs, Sacred No More
New York Times -15 December 2011
"New research shows that, along with an influx of immigrants and foreign influences, Madagascar’s traditional values are beginning to break down, and the lemurs are suffering for it as increased hunting — and not just of lemurs — springs up to feed a demand for meat."
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Hibernating primates: scientists discover three lemur species sleep like bears - 2 May 2013
"Since 2005, scientists have known that the western fat-tailed dwarf lemur hibernates, but a new study in Scientific Reports finds that hibernation is more widespread among lemurs than expected."
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Species Hitched Ride to Madagascar on Floating Islands - 19 March 2012
"The mysteriously rich diversity of life on the isle of Madagascar might have arrived there in part on 'floating islands' carried by ocean currents, researchers now say."
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