project news

Eavesdropping on Lemurs

News item submitted by Frontier
News item dated 25 Feb 2010


This week we are following the research team in Madagascar, who at this very minute, are conducting research in an unchartered paradise. As you may or may not already know, Madagascar is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, laying home to many endangered species of primate. That’s right, lemurs are primates!

The Frontier Madagascar Forest project on lemur populations is investigating a region between Montagne d’Ambre National Park and Ankara Special Reserve. This study aims to quantify population sizes and distributions of different lemur species in unchartered parts of forest fragments. The team have already gained invaluable data on an environment with limited or no research previous to this. Frontier research conducted in this region aims to highlight the importance of sensitive areas that are not already protected, and raise awareness through research.

What is particularly interesting about this study however, is the way in which the research is being obtained. Indeed, an ingeneous and somewhat whacky method has been devised to study the behavioural and population habits of these small mammals. The big secret… Eavesdropping!

Frontier research assistants have been trained to listen to the calls and vocalisations of two specific lemur species in the wild: Sanford’s brown lemur (Eulemur sanfordi) and the vulnerable crowned lemur (Eulemur coronatus). This approach helps estimate the number of lemurs in a group and their location. By then tracking sounds through the forest with GPS, the staff can accurately monitor the territories of local lemur populations, providing reliable and paramount data to conserve the already fractured populations in Madagascar.

Written by Ed Cremin, Elise Belle and Sam Fox

Read more about our Madagascar Wildlife Conservation Adventure