Assessing the effect of anthropogenic stress on the health of lemurs in the wild in Madagascar

Lemurs are among the most iconic animals of Madagascar. To this day, there are still 5 families: Cheirogaleidae, Lemuridae, Lepilemuridae, Indriidae, and Daubentoniidae. For an area of ​​587,000 square kilometers, this represents an extraordinary level of diversity. Despite their great diversity, lemurs are the most threatened group of mammals in the world. More than 90% of lemur species are endangered.


Lemurs are highly sensitive to anthropogenic stressors

Lemurs are extremely sensitive to anthropogenic stressors such as deforestation, mining activities, and hunting, which negatively impact their health. Evaluating how these pressures affect their physiology is crucial for their conservation. In this project, researchers posit that these pressures have a direct and proportional relationship with parasitic infection rates in lemurs.


Samples taken in Madagascar and in Belgian zoos

This research is part of Karine Mahefarisoa’s doctoral thesis (Global South KU Leuven), the 2023 recipient of the scholarship awarded by the Pairi Daiza Foundation, in collaboration with the Royal Belgian Zoological Society. She compares the parasitic loads and intestinal biomes of lemurs in the wild in Madagascar with those living in zoos in Belgium. In Madagascar, she compares samples of lemur feces from an area with high anthropogenic pressure to those from an area with lower pressure. At Pairi Daiza, all our lemurs are dewormed and therefore free from parasitic infections. The fecal samples collected thus serve as negative controls, to validate the results obtained from the samples from Madagascar.


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