The Big Five
Madagascar is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots; of more than 200,000 known species found on Madagascar, more than 80% exist nowhere else. But with around 50% of the country's original forest gone, Madagascar is at the forefront of the current global extinction spasm and amongst the most vulnerable countries to global climate.
For our 2020 Christmas Appeal we’d like to introduce you to our “Big Five of Sainte Luce”...but you won't find any rhino or elephants here!
SEED began as a conservation organisation, so to mark our 20th year we we're going back to our roots. This appeal will be highlighting some of the most unique and spectacular species that we work with and alongside in Madagascar. Scroll down or click the icons above to learn about The Big Five!
What is SEED doing?
In 2021 SEED plans to embark on several environmental and livelihood focussed projects to continue, with increased momentum, our mission to see thriving communities and ecosystems across Madagascar. With your support, this year’s appeal will boost the growth of our conservation and sustainable livelihoods work for 2021 and beyond.
Under our conservation work we will be:
- Monitoring population and habitat of threatened lemur species
- Establishing which bat species are found in the forest to inform conservation activity
- Establishing baseline data for a newly discovered chameleon species
- Sharing our research with both local communities and the international community
Under our sustainable livelihoods work we will be:
- Supporting women's livelihoods under the Mahampy associations to improve income opportunties and financial stability
- Assisting rural beekeepers with identifying routes to market and improving sustainable beekeeping practices
Madagascan Flying Fox
The Madagascan Flying Fox, also known as the Madagascar Fruit Bat, is the largest bat species in Madagascar. It’s endemic, meaning it is not found anywhere else in the world, and it’s also threatened, due to habitat loss and hunting. It’s fur is mostly light brown, with a rufous golden area around the head, and black wings. P. rufus is an important species to the ecosystem, acting as a pollinator and in seed dispersal.
SEED has previously worked to protect this species through Project Rufus, Phase I of which concluded in 2018. This first phase established a community-managed Exclusion Zone of safe habitat for the bats in which logging and hunting were prohibited in local law, and observed a 250% increase in the number of bats recorded at the roost site.
In 2021, we hope to begin a new phase of Project Rufus which will achieve long-term conservation of this amazing bat species through community-focused income generation, awareness raising, and scientific research.Support "Team Bat" in our Christmas Appeal!
Photos & Videos
Collared Brown Lemur
The most famous of Madagascar's endemic animals is the lemur, but did you know there are over 100 species? Eulemur collaris, commonly known as the Collared Brown Lemur or Red-Collared Brown Lemur, is one of 12 recognised species of brown lemur. It's cathemeral (active both during the day and night), and lives in trees, moving along branches on all fours and occasionally jumping between trees. Brown lemurs play an extremely important role in the forest ecosystem in Sainte Luce, as their diet is mainly fruit, making them very effective seed dispersers.
SEED previously conducted a population study of Collared Brown Lemurs in 2011, and has also collected data on lemur behaviour and activities during the 11 years we’ve had a permanent research station in the littoral forest of Sainte Luce.
In 2021, SEED plans to conduct a new population assessment of E. collaris through forest transects and monitoring, as well as completing a ten-year dataset on the three other Endangered species of lemur found in Sainte Luce.Support "Team Lemur" in the Big Five appeal!
Photos & Videos
Scalloped Spiny Lobster
The Scalloped Spiny Lobster (Panulirus homarus) is one of the species found in Madagascar’s south-eastern regional lobster fishery. The fishery consists of around 40 communities and directly employs 15,000 people. Lobsters are big business, because they are a high value commodity and catch from this region accounts for the majority of national catch and export. The Scalloped Spiny Lobster found here is red and does not have pincers. It is usually found near rocky reef. Lobsters are important to this ecosystem because they maintain species diversity, so overfishing threatens biodiversity.
Since 2013, SEED has implemented Project Oratsimba. The project supports three communities to sustainably manage their fisheries, and thus protect the Scalloped Spiny Lobster.
In 2021, Project Oratsimba Phase III will come to an end, but an exciting next phase has already been designed. This will see continued support in Elodrato and Sainte Luce, and expansion to two new communities, as well as research to find out more about the habitat on which the Scalloped Spiny Lobster depends.Support "Team Lobster" in our Christmas Appeal
Photos & Videos
Elongate Leaf Chameleon
The Elongate Leaf Chameleon (Palleon nasus) is a beige, brownish chameleon that grows no more than 9 cm in length. It is found exclusively in the remaining humid forests of southeast Madagascar, which means that their population is severely fragmented and declining. Major threats to the species are activities that contribute to further reduction in habitat quality and area, like slash-and-burn agriculture, logging, and mining.
SEED's Conservation Research Programme (SCRP) previously conducted a study to genetically identify all amphibian and reptile species of the Sainte Luce forests. This study found that the pygmy leaf chameleon species in Sainte Luce, currently identified as P. nasus, is actually a distinct form, or new species!
In 2021, SCRP hopes to conduct a study to formally describe the newly discovered species and establish the population size and distribution. Describing species in this area has extra significance as proposed mining activity is set to begin within the next decade.Support "Team Chameleon" in the Big Five Appeal
Photos & Videos
Malagasy Honey Bee
Apis mellifera unicolor (Malagasy Honey Bee) is a tropical subspecies of honey bee that is endemic to Madagascar. Populations can be found across the island, both in forests as wild colonies and within communities as managed colonies. Like all honey bees, the Malagasy honey bee thrives in areas with high levels of forage, where lots of nectar is available. The Malagasy honey bee differs from other species of honey bees, however, in that it is completely black and is considered to be comparatively docile when handled.
SEED has been working with Malagasy honey bee populations and the people that keep them since 2014, when beekeeping training was trialled during Project Mitsinjo. From 2016 to 2019, Phase I of Project Renitantely trained 78 beekeepers in modern beekeeping techniques and helped increase the average sale price of their honey by 158%.
Project Renitantely Phase II will continue to work with these beekeepers to expand their apiaries and address some ecological factors that are driving many honey bee colonies to abscond. A lack of forage and infestations of Varroa destructor (a parasitic mite) are contributing to a reduction in the nearby Malagasy honey bee population, as many colonies are leaving the area altogether.Support "Team Bee" in the SEED Big Five appeal