Only found in a small region of northeastern Madagascar, the critically endangered Silky Sifaka (Propithecus candidus) lemur is the flagship species of a World Heritage Site (Marojejy National Park). Silky sifakas are amongst the rarest mammals in the world with only 500 to 2000 individuals remaining in the wild, their numbers are declining due to slash-and-burn agriculture, bushmeat hunting, and selective logging of precious wood (rosewood). None are found in captivity (zoos) as past attempts with related species indicates that this species is unlikely to survive outside of primary mountainous rainforest.
In collaboration with Lemur Conservation Foundation, we have established a conservation program in northeastern Madagascar where we maintain a staffed office in Sambava. We support a variety of community-based conservation and research programs in Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve (ASSR) and Marojejy National Park and surrounding villages. We recognize that only by engaging local communities as partners and by supporting their livelihoods, can we ameliorate the drivers of deforestation and hunting that are leading to the extinction of lemurs. We work closely with Madagascar National Parks (MNP) that manages these reserves and collaboratively with numerous local organizations.
We have completed the first population survey of this species in ASSR in 15 years, have developed sustainable agriculture and reforestation initiatives, and have implemented population, health and environment programs. Our project has also contributed to the development of the first ecotourism site in the region, and has supported the local government in improving park boundary demarcation. All of these efforts have contributed to improving the livelihoods of local communities, consequentially decreasing the impact on lemurs and their habitat. Our conservation programs are active in over a dozen villages where we are working closely with local communities to reduce pressure on these protected areas.