By Patricia C. Wright [Lecture\
Dr. Patricia C. Wright tells the extraordinary tale of her still ongoing 26 year long journey into one of the world’s most remote and diverse places on the planet. Her quest to save the lemurs has been met with both many successes and failures. It all started with her 1986 discovery of a new lemur species in a rainforest located in southeastern Madagascar. After learning that the forest was targeted for logging by timber exploiters she led an arduous effort that resulted in the establishment of Ranomafana National Park. In 2007, the park was recognized as having ‘great universal value’ and was made a World Heritage Site.
However, in 2009 Madagascar suffered a “coup d’etat”, and political turmoil cascaded into a chaotic situation, with a rampant rush for natural resources. Whereas deforestation had previously been the lemur’s biggest threat, now they were being trapped and killed by loggers and poachers. This has had devastating and irreversible effects on the lemur populations. Already threatened, they are now listed among the world’s most endangered primates.
While the situation looks bleak, Dr. Wright will discuss the conservation successes that give us hope for the lemurs and their future. Join Dr. Wright as she takes you to the rainforests of Madagascar and learn about her lemur conservation work that since its beginnings in 1986 has intertwined research, education, health and economic improvement.
NamanaBe Hall (Friendship Hall), a recently inaugurated building on the Centre ValBio research station campus, founded by Dr. Wright in 2003 adjacent to Ranomafana National Park, brings 21st Century technology for research and outreach to the rainforests of Madagascar. Through collaborations with Stanford University, Harvard University, the University of Helsinki, outside donors and foundations, Dr. Wright and Stony Brook University have constructed a “world class” research facility overlooking one of the few remaining extensive rainforests in the country. With the installation of high-speed internet service the global exchange of ideas is now available to communities that lacked electricity just over a decade ago. An infectious disease laboratory and a molecular laboratory will be operational later this year. An international team of health professionals will arrive in the spring to pilot a new health program. More....