A conversation with primatologist Dr Erik R. Patel on his fascinating work in Madagascar where he has been studying the behavioral biology and conservation of one of the world’s rarest primates, the Critically Endangered Silky Sifaka lemur Propithecus candidus. Dr Patel is the Post Doctoral Project Director for Duke University Lemur Center’s new conservation program in northeastern Madagascar. He is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of the Lemur Conservation Foundation, and is Director of Simpona, the Malagasy name for the Silky Sifaka, which is an organisation set up “to protect and research Silky Sifakas and their habitat while engaging local communities as partners”. In the podcast Dr Patel describes the threats facing the ‘Silky’, the positive conservation results that can be achieved, and also reveals the discovery of another of Madagascar’s rarest lemurs hundreds of kilometres outside its expected range…
This podcast has been produced by Talking Naturally to promote the conservation of the Silky Sifaka and highlight the work of Simpona
Female Silky Sifaka with her own infant and another mother’s. Photo Jeff Gibbs
About Simpona (from the Simpona website):
SIMPONA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the United States of America. We are represented by prominent law firm in Washington D.C. that specializes in non-profit organizations, and our accounting is professionally assisted by an accounting firm in Maryland.
The mission of SIMPONA is to protect and research silky sifakas and their habitat while engaging local communities as partners. Currently, most of our work takes place in and around Marojejy National Park and the Makira Natural Park which are protected areas in northeastern Madagascar.
SIMPONA employs about a dozen Malagasy residents on a project-specific basis as forest research guides, community educators, cooks, and porters. Most of these people have been working with us regularly since 2001. We have also facilitated research projects for more than a dozen American, European, and Malagasy students. Most of these people have gone on to complete Masters and Doctoral degrees.
As a small organization, we have very low overhead costs. 95% of our funds received go directly into research, conservation, and community projects on the ground. None of our board members receive any salary or compensation whatsoever.
Dr Erik Patel with a Silky Sifaka, June 2011