Few Malagasy children and adults are aware of the rare and unique fauna and flora indigenous to their island-continent, including flagship lemur species. Even the Malagasy ancestral proverbs never mentioned lemurs, but these same proverbs talked about the now extinct hippopotamus. Madagascar's geography, history, and economic constraints contribute to severe biodiversity loss. Deforestation on Madagascar is reported to be over 100,000 ha/year, with only 10-15% of the island retaining natural forest [Green & Sussman, 1990]. Educating children, teacher-training, and community projects about environmental and conservation efforts to protect the remaining natural habitats of endangered lemur species provide a basis for long-term changes in attitudes and practices. Case studies of three conservation education projects located in different geographical regions of Madagascar, Centre ValBio, Madagacar Wildlife Conservation Alaotra Comic Book Project, and The Ako Book Project, are presented together with their ongoing stages of development, assessment, and outcomes. We argue that while nongovernmental organizational efforts are and will be very important, the Ministry of Education urgently needs to incorporate biodiversity education in the curriculum at all levels, from primary school to university.
Comment In: Am J Primatol. 2010 May;72(5):441-419998414