This month Earthwatch will run a training course for African conservationists on how to involve communities in primate conservation research based on the Earthwatch project Madagascar's Lemurs.
For a number of years Earthwatch has offered African Fellowship placements on our African projects to scientists and conservationists. Earthwatch projects offer excellent training opportunities in research and monitoring techniques.
Seven African scientists, protected-area managers and community officers will join Pat Wright's Madagascar's Lemurs project in Ranomafana National Park. They will take part in the lemur research project as research assistants, helping to collect data on the behaviour and ecology of the Milne-Edwards sifaka (Propithecus diadema edwardsi) and their forest habitat.
In addition to their involvement with the research activities, the team will have training in community engagement methods, including processes of community consultation, designing and implementing a community awareness campaign and community development projects compatible with the conservation of natural resources.
Dr Isabelle Lackman-Ancrenaz from Hutan, an orang-utan non-governmental organisation based in Sabah, will join the team to give training in involving and engaging communities in primate conservation. The co - Principle Investigator, Summer Agro-Nelson, will train the participants in primate research techniques.
The training will bring many benefits to the participants on the project. They will have enhanced knowledge and capacity to conserve threatened primates, will exchange case studies and presentations from each participant, and there will be regional and international exchange of good practice and lessons learnt in management of sites containing primates. The participants will develop best practice guidelines for involving local communities in the conservation of local habitats and species which will be valuable for a wide range of Earthwatch projects and for our partner organisations.
The Earthwatch project Madagascar's Lemurs will benefit from the data collected by the fellows which will be fed into the national database coordinated by Madagascar's National Association for the Management of Protected Areas (ANGAP) in Madagascar. The data will also contribute to the Management Plan for Ranomafana National Park.