The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


An ethnoprimatological assessment of human impact on the parasite ecology of silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus)

JAMES E. LOUDON1, ERIK R. PATEL2, CHARLES FAULKNER3, BOBBY SCHOPLER2, RACHEL KAMER4 and CATHY V. WILLIAMS2.

1Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado Boulder, 2Duke University Lemur Center, Duke University, 3College of Veterinary and Comparative Medicine, Lincoln Memorial University, 4Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University

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To date, the silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus) is among the rarest of nonhuman primates (NHPs) with perhaps as few as 1,000 individuals remaining. Pressures impacting their survival include hunting and habitat loss due to logging and agriculture. Parasitic diseases pose another increasingly recognized threat to their health. This study assesses the parasite patterns of two populations of silky sifaka inhabiting Marojejy National Park (Camp 2) and Makira Natural Park (Andaparaty), both located in northeastern Madagascar. The Marojejy population consisted of 7 individuals each of which harbored Lemurostrongylus sp. infections and an unidentified oocyst. The Makira population consisted of 3 individuals of which 1 harbored Lemurostrongylus sp. The Marojejy site is characterized by montane, largely undisturbed rainforest while the Makira site is a fragmented, low elevation habitat with considerable anthropogenic disturbance. Using an ethnoprimatological approach, we conducted interviews with local Tsimihety and Betsimisaraka people who revealed that local fauna including the silky sifaka are hunted, and no significant fady or taboo exists prohibiting the hunting of this species. By understanding the patterns of silky sifaka parasitism and their anthropogenic pressures, we hope to develop durable conservation initiatives at both parks.

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