A PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS OF VERREAUX’S SIFAKA HABITAT IN KIRINDY MITEA NATIONAL PARK, MADAGASCAR
Kirindy Mitea National Park contains one of the largest continuous tracts of dry forest
left in Madagascar. Most of the dry, deciduous forest of western Madagascar is degraded and
fragmented after years of deforestation from slash and burn agriculture and logging. Kirindy
Mitea is a new research site, so little is known about the park as a whole and the species living
there. This focal species of this project is the park’s largest lemur, Verreaux’s sifaka
(Propithecus verreauxi verreauxi). The goals of this project were to determine the average home
range size and group size of the species in Kirindy Mitea, and then compare those numbers to
two other sites in southwestern Madagascar, Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve and Kirindy
Forest/CFPF. In addition, GIS analyses were performed to look at the land cover changes that
took place in Kirindy Mitea during a 16 year period. The results of that analysis were used to
perform a GIS based threat analysis of the forest in the park, in order to determine what areas are
at the highest risk of deforestation in the future.
I found that the average home range size of Verreaux’s sifaka in Kirindy Mitea is larger
than the average home range sizes in Beza Mahafaly and Kirindy CFPF (p=0.010). In addition,
the home ranges have less overlap with neighboring groups in Kirindy Mitea, most likely due to
a difference in habitat and a lack of tamarind trees. The land cover change analysis revealed that
during 1990-2006, there has actually been a gain of over 4,000 ha of forest. However, during the
most recent time period, 2000-2006, there was an overall loss of almost 2,000 ha of forest, and
these areas of forest loss were concentrated around the park boundary and the savanna. The
threat analysis determined that the factors that will most likely lead to deforestation in the future
in Kirindy Mitea are proximity to the park boundary, the roads in the park, and the savanna.
Using the results of the threat analysis, I was able to determine that about 10,500 ha of viable
lemur habitat in the park is at high risk of deforestation in the future.
Currently, the forest in Kirindy Mitea is quite continuous, and there is an adequate
amount left to support large lemur species like Verreaux’s sifaka. It will be important for park
managers to continue protecting the forest so that it does not become fragmented like most of the
dry forest left in Madagascar. I recommend creating a buffer area around the park boundary and
investing in additional security and park staff to monitor the remaining forest around the park
boundary and near roads and savanna. Kirindy Mitea is a rare park in that it actually contains a
large amount of continuous forest, so conserving those remaining large tracts of forest should be
a top priority for park managers.
Advisor:Pimm, Stuart L.
School Location:USA - North Carolina
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:kirindy mitea national park madagascar sifaka propithecus verreauxi geographic information system gis
Date of Publication:05/01/2007