CFN’s Little Rangers – an environmental education camp for kids in the Menabe region of Madagascar

More than a year ago when I was writing the post about the Globe-horned chameleon – one of the many endangered chameleon species endemic to Madagascar – I contacted biologist Dr. Matthias Markolf, chairman of the Göttingen based non-profit organization Chances for Nature, to ask for permission to use his excellent photographs as illustration on my blog. I was aware of CFN’s committed work in environmental education and wildlife conservation, so when Matthias told me about their recent project on Madagascar and asked me if I could make a poster for their ‘flagship’ species – the Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, smallest primate on the world – it was no question this was something I’d love to get involved with. I offered them that I create a 12 piece series – they provided a list of the suggested species, and soon the posters featuring Madagascar’s wildlife were ready.

The program the posters aid is the ‘Little Rangers’, an environmental education camp organized by CFN for local kids in the Kirindy forest in the Menabe region of western Madagascar. The Kirindy Forest is an approximately 100 km2 large protected area of one of the main threatened wildlife habitats of the island, the dry deciduous forest. The forest canopy is dominated by huge baobab trees; it’s home for several rare and endangered species like the giant jumping rat, the Verreaux’s sifaka, several mouse-lemur species and other nocturnal lemurs, bats, tenrecs, reptiles, frogs, rare insects and the fossa. The forest is an important research area for biologists studying different species and the ecosystem of the island, and also an eco-tourism location.

image credits (all cropped): 1. Grey mouse lemur by nomis simon CC BY 2.0 2. Fossa by zoofanatic CC BY 2.0 3. Lowland streaked tenrec by Alan Harper CC BY-NC 2.0  4. Giant jumping rat by Josh More CC BY-NC-ND 2.0  5. Verreaux’s sifaka by nomis simon CC BY 2.0 6. Malagasy green tree frog by hehaden CC BY-NC 2.0  7. Satanic leaf-tailed gecko by Allan Hopkins CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 8.  Red-tailed sportive lemur by Frank Vassen CC BY 2.0 

During the multi-day camp the children participate in different playful educational activities aimed to increase their knowledge about the unique wildlife of the island and to gain a better understanding about the dangers of human-induced threats to natural habitats and the importance of preserving the environment and wildlife. Many animal species of the island became already very rare because of their rapidly disappearing habitat (slash and burn agriculture is prevalent on Madagascar) and hunting by locals, so visiting the protected forest is a special opportunity for the kids to observe lemurs, birds and other species at close range.

CFN plans to offer this camp as a permanent program in the future, they are trying to gain some traction and support for the project. To help this, the posters where also exhibited on location at the Centre National de Formation, d’Etudes et de Recherche en Environnement et Forestier in the Kirindy Forest.

The LITTLE RANGERS education camp in the Kirindy Forest, Madagascar
©Copyright Matthias Markolf 

If you’d like to know more about the Little Rangers program or other activities of CFN, please visit their youtube channel or their website. If you’d like to get involved and help their work, you also find options for donation on their website.

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