New Trip Report: Madagascar

Samuel Marlin is back from 3 weeks in Madagascar and saw a lot of cool mammals.

Madagascar, 2017: Samuel Marlin, 3 weeks & 38 species including Fosa, Fanaloka, Ring-tailed & Narrow-striped Mongooses and (semi-wild) Aye-ayes.



  • john weir

    Hi Samuel
    I read with great interest your recent report on your trip to Madagascar 2017 (and enjoyed it very much), we did a very similar trip in July 2013. Since our return I have tried via other wildlife forums to gain some up to date information on the current status of The Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus in Ranomafana N.P.), with no success. At the time of our visit only two remained a father and his daughter. Prior to our visit 5-6 had been re-located into the park but had all either died or disappeared completely by the time we arrived. I was wondering as you saw this species recently whether you had any information about any recent developments. In 2014 Pamela Wright confirmed that possibly further re-introductions were planned but I have been unable to get any accurate information since. I would be very interested in any information you may have on this critically endangered species. Thanks John Weir.

  • Samuel

    Hi John, sorry for taking so long to reply you. I actually missed your post and I thank Jon who informed me about it.
    For sure, the situation of the Greater Bamboo Lemur in Ranomafana is quite concerning… In July 2017, we saw like you the same 2 individuals I guess: one father and his daughter indeed who are very habituated to humans and fairly easy to see. Our excellent guide, Emile, told us that they are other Greater Bamboo Lemurs higher in the mountains of Ranomafana NP in a remote area of difficult access and not open to visitors. He said the population is estimated around 40. He and other guides also mentionned that another population has been recently discovered lower in the valley in a patch of bamboo forest and that the population there is estimated to be close to a hundred !! When I told them that the Greater Bamboo Lemur was critically endangered and amongts the rarest mammals on the planet according to what I read, my guides seemed quite surprised and not considering this species to be so rare. I don’t know if this was due to misunderstanding between us or if indeed the recent discovery I mentionned above has changed the situation. However, I don’t have any other reliable information to give you like the name and exact location of such bamboo forest and whether what they told is accurate… I’m afraid I won’t be of great help for you. Sorry. Best regards. Samuel

  • john weir

    Hi Samuel, thank you for your detailed reply. I was aware of the discovery of a relatively large disjunct population of Greater Bamboo Lemurs in the Torotorofotsy region near the Andasibe- Mantadia N.P., around 2005. The population in Ranomafana however appears very fragile and is split into at least three groups none of which appear to have made much progress since my visit in 2013. The two specimens we both saw are all that is left of one of those groups, I was amazed that they are still thriving, the male must sadly be now nearing the end of his natural life. Your trip report has been the catalyst for me to try and find out what is being done in Ranomafana to save this wonderful primate.
    I e-mailed The ValBio Research Centre in the park and got a reply from Pascal Robeson, (their National Director) but he was unable to answer my questions but said he would forward it to someone who could. (I think we may have experienced some language difficulties). If I don’t get a reply in a couple of weeks I will try Patricia Wright, she should certainly have an up to date picture of P. simus in Ranomafana.
    I will let you know the outcome via this media. Regards John.

  • Brett Hartl

    Samuel, I am considering a trip for next year, do you have a direct email for Andry? I have tried the general email posted on their website, but no response back. Thanks. Brett

  • john weir

    Hi Samuel, recently got a reply from Patricia Wright regarding the Greater Bamboo Lemurs in Ranomafana. It would appear the two specimens we saw are the only known individuals presently in the park. The earlier translocation attempt around 2013 failed, the incomers fought with the ‘home team”, slipped their radio collars and were not seen again. She admits a couple of mistakes were made, but that lessons were learned. They may well still be in the park and the additional group you refer to?
    Good news. She has just received a grant to support a new translocation attempt, with individuals taken from outside the park. She is hopeful of receiving permits from Madagascar National Parks to conduct this new translocation, before the breeding season starts in April 2018. She points out that ‘matchmaking’ is not an easy task and that they will need to be very selective in identifying chosen individuals, need to be parasite free etc., but that they are committed to trying again. The translocation will strictly conform with all the IUCN rules on such activities. She also points out that at the end of the day, the animals will have to accept each other and asked that we wish them luck. She has promised to let me know how things progress so I am sure we are all hoping for good news from her team sometime in 2018. Lets hope that on your next visit to Ranomafana Samuel there will be a healthy breeding group of this critically endangered primate.

    Special thanks are due to Dr. Patricia Wright (Ex. Dir. Centre ValBio and an acknowledged world expert on Madagascar’s Lemurs) for taking the time to respond to my questions particularly as she is currently working in the field.

  • Aniket

    Hi John
    I was leading a group in Ranomafana 2 weeks ago and the situation was still as above. We saw the father and daughter, and the information I got (a bit vague) was that there were other individuals in other parts of the park, but only these 2 within the train network at present. Lets hope the reintroduction goes well.

  • Aniket

    This article might be of interest – it suggests climate change and lack of rainfall might be causing the decline of the greater bamboo lemur.

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