ZAZA News from Madagascar :)

Dear Zaza Sponsors all over the world,
Thank-you all, so much, for your support in the ZAZA Project initiative to help send Malagasy children to school past Grade 5! After only 3 years of the program we are currently supporting 30 children. Our first cohort of students are now in their 3rd year of scholarships, our second cohort has just begun their 2nd year of scholarships and of course we have a new group of 10 children who have just started secondary school with the support of ZAZA Scholarships 
I returned from Madagascar about 1 month ago, and I am now back in Kaikoura, New Zealand, studying penguins and dolphins and of course analysing my findings from approximately 14 months with the lemurs in Maromizaha Forest, Madagascar. As always, it was an incredible adventure. This time I participated in a week-long conference at Ranomafana National Park and presented my early findings on infant development in the Indri and the Diademed Sifaka. I also assisted with a project led by Dr Lisa Gould, further south in Madagascar, looking at ring-tailed lemurs living in tiny forest fragments. It was very discouraging at times to see so much deserted land, and so little forest, but we did meet a few local people trying to make a change to tourism and protection of the remaining forests, and that gave us hope.
I also had the chance to visit Marojejy National Park in the north of Madagascar and see the gorgeous ghost-like Silky Sifaka. It was encouraging to meet Dr Erik Patel, who has been working in this region for over 10 years and has done SO much to help the animals and the people of the local communities.
At Maromizaha, I was surprised to find that in 2013, no babies were born in any of my 10 groups, whereas in past years we have had bundles! It could be that this year the rain, temperature and hence plant food availability were not as favourable for lemur reproduction in this forest. Of course, zeros are numbers too! This information is valuable in my long-term study of their reproductive patterns.
Last week, Madagascar held its first elections since the coup in 2009. These elections had been delayed several times over the past few years and it is VERY good news for Madagascar that they have actually occurred, and that it occurred mostly peacefully. It will take some more time before a new leader is appointed, as collecting and counting all of the ballots is a time consuming process in a country where some ballot stations are accessible only by foot! We hope that Madagascar will benefit from their new leadership and that the country will stay stunningly beautiful into the future.
Thank-you for your part in keeping Madagascar, and the world, a beautiful place.
Huge smiles,
Jody 

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