Last year, I joined a group of Nat Hab travelers on a fourteen-day Madagascar safari beginning on the island’s central plateau. In Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park, our Nat Hab group connected with Domoina Rakotomalala, WWF Madagascar’s Landscape Manager for the Tulear region. The first female herpetologist in Madagascar, Domoina specialized in chameleon biology before working with Madagascar National Parks and joining WWF in 2011.
With Domoina, our small group spotted species of lemurs and birds in Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park that exist nowhere else on Earth. We spotted an Appert’s tetraka (Xanthomixis appertain)—a rare Malagasy tetraka—as it foraged in the dry leaf litter of the forest floor. From gaps in the canopy, yellow eyes peered out at us.
The endangered Zombitse sportive lemur (Lepilemur hubbardorum) is only known to occur in this protected area of Madagascar.
WWF helps to conserve the fragile forests that they call home, advancing community energy projects to reduce forest cutting for charcoal. Our local guides in Zombitse went directly from guiding our group in the national park to fighting escaped fires caused by land clearing along the forest’s southern boundary.
WWF continues to work on various issues within Madagascar, including alternative energy, community-based natural resource monitoring and management, environmental education, Madagascar ecotourism, and income generation, along with a range of other activities that benefit local livelihoods and biodiversity.
Rachel Kramer is a Senior Program Officer for TRAFFIC on WWF’s Wildlife Conservation team. A Madagascar expert, she accompanied a 2015 Nat Hab Madagascar tour, exploring national parks in the island’s center, south and northwest. Her small group had close encounters with 20 species of lemurs in two weeks, and learned about conservation and development challenges facing communities in rural Madagascar.