Betampona Conservation

To manage and support Betampona Natural Reserve in Madagascar


The Betampona Natural Reserve, located 40 km northwest of Tamatave, is a 2,228 ha lowland rainforest – Betampona receives about 2000 mm of rain throughout the year - biologically rich in endemic plants and animals. Betampona’s forest constitutes an island of trees lying in a sea of devastation. Such is its importance that the reserve is the type locality for many species of plants. Twenty of Madagascar’s 100 most threatened plants are found within the boundaries of the reserve. 11 Lemur species, including the indri (Indri indri), the diademed sifaka (Propithecus d. diadema), the black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia v. variegata), the white fronted lemur (Eulemur fulvus albifrons), and the aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis), 86 bird species, 5 endemic carnivore species, including Madagascar’s largest carnivore, the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), brown-tailed mongoose (Salanoia concolor) and broad-striped mongoose (Galidictis fasciata) and 94 reptile and amphibian species have been recorded in Betampona. The herpetofauna includes several species of chameleons (Brookesia superciliaris, Furcifer pardalis), day geckoes (Phelsuma), nocturnal geckoes (Gehyra mutilata, Paroedura masobe) and glass frogs (Mantidactylus), the (tomato frog (Dyscophus antongilii), leaf-tail gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) and Madagascar boa (Acranthophis madagascariensis), to name just a few.


Betampona is the site of the first and only release of zoo-born lemurs (black and white ruffed lemurs) into the wild. The restocking project, initiated and coordinated by the Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG), has demonstrated that ex situ-bred lemurs can survive for years without provisioning, can assimilate into resident groups and produce offspring with wild co-specifics.


The release project is the centerpiece of a broader programme to conserve Betampona which includes:


  • establishment of a Research Station at the perimeter of the forest,
  • identifying animal and plant species and their distribution within the Reserve (has led to the discovery of new taxa),
  • systematic surveys that monitor seasonal and annual variations in the population size of target species,
  • long-term research on the social ecology of selected lemur species including ruffed lemurs, indri, diademed sifaka and brown lemur,
  • development of a research strategy that provides ANGAP with data from which to develop a conservation management plan,
  • creation of a detailed map including GPS locations, elevations and forest structure,
  • creation of a nursery for endemic trees to supply future reforestation projects,
  • capacity building through the training of Malagasy college and graduate students, the MFG and ANGAP’s conservation agents, and others,
  • partnering with ANGAP to maintain and protect the Reserve, and
  • community environmental and basic education activities.


The eventual objective is to attain a comprehensive picture of the number and diversity of species found in the Reserve, the genetic and demographic profiles of select taxa, the ecological relationships of key animal and plant species and the environmental and anthropomorphic pressures impacting the viability of endangered species living in Betampona. The ultimate goal is to implement and evaluate an informed conservation plan for one of Madagascar’s few remaining fragments of lowland rain forest.


WAZA Conservation Project 05015 is operated by the Madagascar Fauna Group and the Madagascar National Park Service (ANGAP), and is supported by the Brookfield Zoo, Carribean Gardens, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Duke University Primate Center, FOTA Wildlife Park, Houston Zoo, London Zoological Society,Marwell Zoo, Philadelphia Zoo, Saint Louis Zoo, San Antonio Zoo, Zoological Society of San Diego, Wildlife Conservation Society (Bronx Zoo), Zurich Zoo (managing members), Indianapolis Zoo, Oklahoma City Zoo, Quebec Zoo, (sponsoring members); Allwetterzoo Münster, Dickerson Park Zoo, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Dudley Zoo, Living Rainforest, Los Angeles Zoo, Minnesota Zoo as well as by other sponsors. 


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