International Primatological Society
Member Login 08/21/2017



 Grantee Spotlight: Alison Jolly Lemur Conservation Grant 2016

Climate Change, Coups, and Critically Endangered Species: First Aerial Drone Surveys of Madagascar's Lemurs 

Brandon Semel t: @brandonsemel   w:

Critically endangered golden-crowned sifakas are found only in northern Madagascar. Traditional walking surveys in 2006/2008 suggested that at least 18,000 remained. Madagascar’s 2009 coup brought increased habitat loss and hunting across the species’ habitat while climate change continues to pose an additional, less tangible threat to the species’ persistence. We sought to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to update habitat maps and to assess their use for long-term sifaka monitoring. Walking transects also were conducted for comparison against UAV surveys.

Local guides facilitated walking surveys in five forest fragments. Unfortunately, evidence of lemur hunting was not uncommon, and our guides (local forest guardians) had to leave early one day to bring two poachers to the police. Our limited pilot season suggests that the current population size is closer to 11,500 individuals with an upper limit of 18,700. This represents a 36% population decline in the last 10 years. Sifakas were not disturbed by UAV flights (we feared the sifakas would think that UAVs were predatory hawks and flee!). While we could identify sifakas from the air, technological challenges prevented additional field-testing. More extensive surveys will take place in 2017, and we will work with local stakeholders to improve anti-poaching efforts.


 IMG_2589.jpg IMG_3554.jpg  IMG_4440.jpg 
Local capacity building and engagement were crucial aspects of our work this summer. Here, Malagasy university students and local guides test the use of UAVs for lemur population and habitat monitoring. © Brandon Semel, 2017 Endangered crowned lemurs are found only in northern Madagascar. They are across their range hunted and little is known about their abundance. © Brandon Semel, 2017 Virginia Tech undergraduate, Paige Crane (with golden-crowned sifaka), joined the team for a month, where she learned about the complexity of conducting international research. © Brandon Semel, 2017







The Conservation Committee of IPS is soliciting applications of up to $1,500 to support the development of primate conservation field programs. The committee is expecting to distribute up to $10,000 this year. If you have any questions regarding this award please contact IPS Vice President for Conservation, Janette Wallis (email: wallis at

Application Deadline is annually on March 1st

IPS Conservation Grant 2017.docx

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions file (below) to learn more about the opportunity to receive help with the English in your application. Deadline for this assistance is February 15.

Frequently asked questions

(Note - if you do not receive confirmation of receipt of your application within 2 weeks of submission, please contact the VP listed above.)

The Galante Family Winery Conservation Scholarship

Proposals are solicited from citizens of primate habitat countries for the Galante Family Winery Conservation Scholarship. The scholarship monies (up to $2500) are to be used for primate conservation education and training. This may include such activities as transportation to a training course or educational program, course or event fees, and/or expenses during the event period.

Follow this link for more information.

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