Have you heard the saying: “Give a man a fish and he has food for one day, teach a man to fish and he has food for life”?
Well, this saying was a major motivation and influence when the thought of how to continue the ZAZA Project in the long term was being done. Both the lemur research and the scholarships were the biggest components of the program, but how could we continue both of these important aspects?
In 2014 we decided to add a new element to the ZAZA Project called the ZAZA Local Monitoring Program (ZAZA L.M.P).
This program has 3 main goals:
1) To provide employment and a dependable source of income for local assistants.
2) The continuation of data collection on focal lemur mothers and their infants.
3) To protect and conserve the Maromizaha Forest.
Ever since 2010 when Dr. Weir conducted her first study in Maromizaha, she has been carefully and attentively training a core team of local assistants on how to collect behavioral data on lemur infants and their mothers, and then input this information into an electronic database.
In March 2014 the ZAZA Project received a generous donation which allowed the purchase of a small project computer, internet stick and photocopy datasheets!
Peace Corps volunteers based in Anevoka facilitated internet training for both the team and the local assistants; Ndrinuasolo, Raelison, Olga and Haja. This team began to follow the year’s infant lemurs and their mothers, recording their every move. The assistance is vital in helping us learn more about infant development, feeding ontogeny and maternal feeding and care strategies of lemurs in this forest. In 2014 one of the diademed sifaka, Tandra, gave birth to the first infant of the season, ‘Tsikivy’, meaning ‘in good spirits’.
Over the years the Local Monitoring Team grew until it consisted of 7 people. Sadly, this only lasted up until the middle of September 2018, and has been reduced to 4 people for the remainder of the year, all due to insufficient funds. The core team now consists of Olga, Raelison, Ndrenasolo and Herve. This team will be working 6 days a week until the week before Christmas 2018.
So what are the logistics of running a research team? Well, here is the really remarkable part. One day of work for one assistant costs $5, meaning for all 4 assistants it only costs $20 a day.
So far donations to the ZAZA project have supported the funding needed for these 4 assistants, for the 6 months season ($2,160 provides work for 4 people for 6 months…where else in the world can we make such a positive impact?).
From the ZAZA Scholarship program we know how far a bit of money can go. We also know how happy people are when their kids get to go to school. Now, imagine how happy they would be when they earn the money themselves to support their child’s schooling, their families and their community.
Providing work for local assistants gives greater value to forest conservation and when the lemurs are routinely monitored they are less likely to be targeted by poachers, a horrifying reality that threatens the future of these beautiful animals.
If you would like to donate to the salaries of these local assistants through the ZAZA Local Monitoring Program please let us know. Also, if you know someone who might be interested in helping, please share this information with them. As always, please let us know if you have any questions at all.
The ZAZA Project is hopeful and confident that with a little bit of help, we can continue to provide work for these 4 talented local assistants, all while collecting data on this year’s baby lemurs.