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Madagascar: Conservation official arrested for killing 11 endangered lemurs

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar — Two weeks ago, the bodies of 11 critically endangered lemurs were discovered in Iaroka forest inside the Zahamena Ankeniheny Corridor protected area in eastern Madagascar. The lemurs were allegedly killed by one of the local officials charged with protecting them, to the dismay of conservation leaders. The protected forest is managed jointly by the NGO Conservation International and a local community forestry group, or vondron’olona ifotony (VOI), called VOI Firaisankina. On Feb. 27, police from the nearby town of Andasibe arrested Jean Yves Ratovoson, the VOI’s vice president, in Andasibe’s rural commune of Antavolobe. On Monday, police undertook a special assignment to arrest his suspected accomplices. “This criminal act was committed by a leader of the VOI and his two accomplices,” Toto Jean Etienne, president of VOI Firaisankina, told Mongabay. “He was apprehended. They killed 10 babakoto, or the famous Indri indri, and one simpona, or Propithecus diadema.” Jean Yves Ratovoson, vice president of the community forestry group VOI Firaisankina, after his arrest on February 27 for allegedly poaching lemurs. Photo courtesy of GERP. Babakoto, also called the indri, and simpona, also called diademed sifaka, are both listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. Scientists believe their populations are declining as a result of hunting and habitat destruction. The roughly 113 species of lemurs live only on Madagascar and the nearby Comoros Islands. They are something of a national mascot and a major tourist draw for Madagascar, but most species are endangered, and the exceptionally biodiverse and…

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