1Anthropology, University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College, 2Africa and Madagascar Field Division, Conservation International
April 16, 2016 , Atrium Ballroom A/B
It is difficult to assess the magnitude of pet lemur ownership in Madagascar. The current study used an online survey to collect data on pet lemur sightings from the public to determine the extent of pet lemur ownership. Based on prior research in northern Madagascar, we predicted that pet lemur ownership would be reported throughout Madagascar and that Lemur catta would be the most commonly reported pet. As of September 15, 2015, our website received 317 responses reporting over 685 sightings of pet lemurs. Our results accord with those of the previous study. The most common lemurs seen as pets were Lemur catta, Varecia variagata, and Eulemur fulvus. Pet lemurs were geographically widespread reported in 19 of Madagascar’s 22 regions. Prior research in northern Madagascar estimated that over 28,000 lemurs were kept as pets between 2010 and 2013. Results of the current study found that the region with the highest number of pet lemurs (Atsimo-Andrefana) was in southern Madagascar suggesting the estimate of 28,000 pet lemurs should be revisited. Online surveys have several advantages over direct sampling through face-to-face interviews: 1) research costs are significantly lower; 2) anonymity may yield better responses to questions about illegal activities like owning a lemur; and 3) broader geographic areas can be surveyed. Additionally, this result identifies the region of Madagascar where further on-the-ground research into pet lemurs is most needed. The results of this study identify the potential of online surveys in collecting data on pet ownership.