Trapping surveys of carnivores, to estimate population distributions and relative abundances, have provided evidence that as the population of fosa (Cryptoprocta ferox) decreases, the population of feral dogs increases. In 2003, dogs had begun to appear in the Park, and slowly increased in number, parallel to a steady decrease in fosa in the study area. The likely explanation was that dogs were excluding the fosa through competition for food and territory.
Results comparing deforestation and afforestation rates within the Kirindy Mite National Park, as compared to the surrounding buffer zone, have shown that the presence of a Park provides habitat protection. Core dry forest habitat patches between Ankarafantsika National Park and Kirindy Mite National Park have been identified as potential islands or habitat “stopovers”, and the existence and protection of these could facilitate potential migrations or corridors for fosa across Madagascar. In addition, fragmentation studies in Ankarafantsika have highlighted that a quarter of potentially suitable habitat currently exists in fragments too small to support populations of lemur or fosa.
The project has contributed to a long-term action plan for Madagascar’s science and technology policy development, submitted to the governmental department for the environment, Parques Nacional de Madagascar (PNM – Madagascar National Parks - formerly the National Association for the Management of Protected Areas in Madagascar, ANGAP).
Outside of the project’s original objectives, but an important additional focus of Earthwatch teams, has been research on wildlife mortality from road traffic accidents. These incidents can have significant impacts on wildlife populations, with 10,000 animals a year being killed on a 17km stretch of road transecting Ankarafantsika National Park. Data from transects and analysis of road kill along the highway by Earthwatch volunteers was submitted to PNM to support the recommendation that speed bumps be introduced as a Park management initiative. The recommendation was taken up and the speed bumps installed. Follow-up surveys have demonstrated a significant reduction in the level of road kill across all faunal classes, with mortality down to less than a third of previous levels.
Land cover change in western Madagascar’s dry deciduous forests: a comparison of forest changes
in and around Kirindy Mite National Park. Oryx, 43(2): 275–283.
Ratsimbazafy, H.J., Arrigo-Nelson, S.J., Dollar, L., Feistner, A., Holmes, C.M., Irwin, M.T., Johnson, S.E., Stevens, N.J. & Wright, P.C. In press. Conservation of Prosimians in Madagascar: A View from the Great Red Island. In: Masters, J., Gamba,
M. & Genin, F. (Eds.) Leaping Ahead: Advances in Prosimian Biology. Developments in Primatology series. Springer, New York, USA.