Adult and juvenile Perrier’s sifakas (Propithecus perrieri) at Andrafiamena forest, Madagascar in 2016. Madagascar Conservation & Development Photo Alessio Anania

Taboo adherence and presence of Perrier’s sifaka (Propithecus perrieri) in Andrafiamena forest

Alessio Anania, Jordi Salmona, Emmanuel Rasolondraibe, Fabien Jan, Lounès Chikhi, Claudia Fichtel, Peter M. Kappeler, Rodin Rasoloarison

Abstract


Habitat loss and poaching are among the most serious threats to the fragile and unique biodiversity of Madagascar. In the past, traditional taboos (fady), commonly associated with folk stories, have had a buffering effect on several lemur species. Here, we examine the status of hunting taboos with reference to the conservation of the critically endangered Perrier´s sifaka (Propithecus perrieri). We also provide an update on P. perrieri’s presence in the protected area of Andrafiamena in the face of ongoing habitat fragmentation and poaching. The Andrafiamena forest represents one of the key refuges for this species, which has a very limited and fragmented range in northern Madagascar. We report the results of a 2016 presence/absence survey in Andrafiamena and from interviews on Perrier’s sifaka taboo adherence, conducted in 2012 across the whole species range. Our results confirm the presence of Perrier’s sifakas in Andrafiamena and that in 2012, across the species’ range, the hunting taboo was observed by most (>95%) interviewees who answered (N = 23). Forest clearing and a decrease of taboo adherence may intensify the pressure on the already small and fragile population of P. perrieri. A deeper knowledge of the human-wildlife interconnections, as well as regular monitoring of this rare species’ distribution, may be crucial for the success of its conservation.

 

Résumé

La perte dde l’habitat et le braconnage sont parmi les menaces les plus graves pour la fragile biodiversité de Madagascar. Les tabous traditionnels (fady), communément associés à des contes et mythes, ont eu historiquement un effet de préservation sur la plupart des espèces de lémuriens. Le propithèque de Perrier (Propithecus perrieri) est une espèce de lémurien en danger critique d’extinction. Il a une des distributions les plus restreintes parmi les propithèques. Quelques témoignages anecdotiques relevés dans la littérature suggèrent qu'un tabou protégerait cette espèce de la chasse. La forêt protégée d’Andrafiamena représente à ce jour l'un des principaux refuges pour cette espèce mais la population de ce propithèque n'y a pas été évaluée régulièrement depuis 2013. Cette étude apporte une mise à jour de la présence de P. perrieri dans la forêt d’Andrafiamena et évaue l’importance des tabous pour la conservation de cette espèce, sous la forme de résultats émanant d'une brève étude sur le terrain menée à Andrafiamena en 2016. Les données d’entretiens succincts sur l'adhésion aux tabous liés à la chasse de P. perrieri menés en 2012 sur l’aire de distribution de l'espèce incluant l’aire protégée d’Andrafiamena-Andavakoera, la Réserve Spéciale d’Analamerana et le Parc National de l’Ankarana sont également présentés. Les résultats confirment la présence de P. perrieri dans trois des sept sites visités de la forêt d'Andrafiamena considérée comme étant l'une des zones les plus importante pour sa conservation. Les résultats montrent également que, sur l’ensemble de l’aire de distribution du propithèque de Perrier, le tabou de chasse est observé par la plupart (> 95%) des répondants (N = 23), une valeur élevée en comparaison avec d'autres zones de Madagascar abritant des populations du genre Propithecus. Un conte traditionnel associé au tabou de P. perrieri est présenté et rappelle d’autres récits du folklore malgache. Le répertoire des récits concernants les différentes espèces de propithèques semble avoir des éléments stéréotypés et la permanence du récit peut augmenter la probabilité de respect du tabou. Le déboisement et la diminution de l'adhérence aux tabous peuvent intensifier la pression sur la population de P. perrieri qui est déjà modeste et fragile. Une connaissance plus approfondie des interconnexions homme-faune ainsi qu'une surveillance régulière de cette espèce menacée peuvent être cruciales pour le succès de sa conservation.


Keywords


Propithecus perrieri; Andrafiamena; sifaka; survey; taboo; fady; hunting

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