Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: The release of captive-bred black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata into the Betampona Reserve, eastern Madagascar

Published source details

Britt A., Welch C., Katz A., Iambana B., Porton I., Junge R., Crawford G., Williams C. & Haring D. (2004) The re-stocking of captive-bred ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata variegata) into the Betampona Reserve, Madagascar: methodology and recommendations. Biodiversity and Conservation, 13, 635-657


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Provide artificial water sources Primate Conservation

A before-and-after study in 1997-2002 in primary forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that less than half of all captive-bred, parent-reared reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that were provided with supplementary water for a certain period of time along with ten other interventions, survived over five years. Five (38.5%) of 13 individuals survived in the wild and six individuals were born, of which four survived. One female and one male reproduced with wild lemurs and the male became fully integrated. Artificial water sources were provided together with relatively dry supplementary food that was given for three months.  All released animals were fitted with radio-collars for monitoring. Captive lemurs had limited semi-free-ranging experience, were quarantined and underwent veterinary screens before their reintroduction in groups into habitat with predators and wild conspecifics. They were recaptured and treated when sick. They were allowed to adapt to local habitat conditions before release. Dead lemurs were investigated. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Captive breeding and reintroduction of primates into the wild: limited free-ranging experience Primate Conservation

A before-and-after trial in 1997-2002 in primary forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that less than half of all captive-bred, parent-reared reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata, which had limited semi-free-ranging experience alongside ten other interventions, survived five years. Five (38.5%) of 13 individuals survived after release and six individuals were born, of which only four survived. One female and one male reproduced with resident wild lemurs and the male became fully integrated into the wild group. Lemurs were held in outside (1.5-9.1 ha fenced forest) in the USA before reintroduction. Released animals were fitted with radio transmitters. Lemurs underwent quarantine and health checks before reintroduction in groups into habitat with predators and resident wild lemurs. They were recaptured and treated when sick and provided with supplementary food and water. They were allowed to adapt to local conditions before release. Cause of death of dead lemurs was clinically determined. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Implement quarantine for primates before reintroduction/translocation Primate Conservation

A before-and-after trial in 1997-2002 in primary forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that less than half of all captive-bred, parent-reared reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that were quarantined before release alongside ten other interventions, survived until the end of the study period of five years. Over five years, five of 13 individuals (38.5%) survived in the wild and six individuals were born, of which four survived. One female and one male of the group reproduced with wild resident lemurs and the male became fully integrated into the wild group. The on-site quarantine period combined with the pre-shipment quarantine period totalled 30 days. All released animals were radio-collared for post-release monitoring. Captive lemurs had limited semi-free-ranging experience and underwent veterinary screens before their reintroduction in groups into habitat with predators and wild resident lemurs. They were recaptured and treated when sick and provided with supplementary food and water for a certain period. They were allowed to adapt to local habitat conditions before release. Dead lemurs were clinically examined. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Detect & report dead primates and clinically determine their cause of death to avoid disease transmission Primate Conservation

A before-and-after trial in 1997-2002 in primary forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar  found that more than half of all captive-bred, parent-reared black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata did not survive until the end of the study period of five years, although each dead lemur’s cause of death was clinically determined upon its detection alongside ten other interventions. Five of 13 individuals (38.5%) survived in the wild and six individuals were born, of which only four survived. One female and one male of the group reproduced with wild resident lemurs and the male became fully integrated in the wild group. All dead lemurs underwent a post-mortem examination. Released animals were fitted with radio-collars. Captive lemurs had limited semi-free-ranging experience, were quarantined and underwent veterinary screens before their reintroduction in groups into habitat with predators and wild resident lemurs. They were recaptured and treated when sick and provided with supplementary food and water for a certain period. They were allowed to adapt to local habitat conditions before release. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Reintroduce primates into habitat with predators Primate Conservation

A before-and-after trial in 1997–2002 in forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that less than half of all captive-bred, parent-reared black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegate that were reintroduced into habitat with predators along with ten other interventions, survived for five years. Five of 13 individuals (39%) survived in the wild and six (46%) individuals were born, of which only four survived. One female and one male of the group reproduced and the male became fully integrated into the wild group. One male and one female were killed by a predator. Before release lemurs were allowed to adapt to local habitat conditions. All released animals were fitted with radio transmitter collars for post-release monitoring. Captive lemurs had limited semi-free-ranging experience, were quarantined, and underwent veterinary screens before their reintroduction in groups into habitat where the species was already present. Lemurs were recaptured and treated when sick and provided with supplementary food and water. Dead lemurs were detected and their cause of death determined. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Provide supplementary food for a certain period of time only Primate Conservation

A before-and-after trial in 1997-2002 in primary forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that less than half of all captive-bred, parent-reared, reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that were provided with supplementary food for a certain period of time along with ten other interventions, survived for five years. Five of 13 individuals (38.5%) survived in the wild and six individuals were born, of which only four survived. One female and one male of the group reproduced with wild lemurs and the male became fully integrated into the wild group. Supplementary feeding was provided for three months after release, meeting approximately 75% of each animal’s daily nutritional requirements. Feeding took place in the forest canopy using suspending feeding baskets and platforms. Released animals were monitored using radio-collars. Captive lemurs had limited semi-free-ranging experience, were quarantined and underwent veterinary screens before reintroduction in groups into habitat with predators and wild resident lemurs. They were recaptured and treated when sick and provided with supplementary water for a certain period of time. They were allowed to adapt to local habitat conditions before release. Dead lemurs were examined. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Treat sick/injured animals Primate Conservation

A before-and-after study in 1997-2002 in primary forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that less than half of all captive-bred, parent-reared, reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata, which were recaptured and treated when sick alongside ten other interventions, survived over five years. Five of 13 individuals (38.5%) survived in the wild and six individuals were born, of which four survived. One female and one male of the group reproduced with wild resident lemurs and the male became fully integrated. Recaptures of sick animals for treatment were achieved using hand-grabbing. Released animals were monitored with radio-collars. Captive lemurs had limited semi-free-ranging experience, were quarantined and underwent veterinary screens before their reintroduction in groups into habitat with predators and wild lemurs. They were provided with supplementary food and water for a certain period of time and allowed to adapt to local habitat conditions before release. Dead lemurs were detected and their cause of death investigated. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Conduct veterinary screens of animals before reintroducing/translocating them Primate Conservation

A before-and-after trial in 1997-2002 in primary forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that less than half of all captive-bred, parent-reared reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that underwent veterinary screens before their release alongside ten other interventions, survived over five years. Five of 13 individuals (38.5%) survived in the wild and six individuals were born, of which only four survived. One female and one male of the group reproduced with wild resident lemurs and the male became fully integrated into the wild group. Veterinary examinations included physical examinations, complete blood cell count, serum biochemical profile, viral serology, Toxoplasma antibody level, trace mineral determination, fat soluble vitamin determination, faecal parasite examination, and faecal culture. Released animals were radio-collared. Captive lemurs had limited semi-free-ranging experience and were quarantined before their reintroduction in groups into habitat with predators and wild conspecifics. They were recaptured and treated when sick and provided supplementary food and water. They were allowed to adapt to local habitat conditions before release. Dead lemurs were clinically examined. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Allow primates to adapt to local habitat conditions for some time before introduction to the wild Primate Conservation

A before-and-after trial in 1997-2002 in primary forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that less than half of all captive-bred, parent-reared, reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that were allowed to adapt to local habitat conditions before release along with ten other interventions, survived over five years. Five (38.5%) of 13 individuals survived in the wild and six individuals were born, of which four survived. One female and one male reproduced with wild lemurs and the male became fully integrated into the wild group. Lemurs were held in a timber and chain-link wire mesh cage at the release site for 3-14 days before release. Released animals were fitted with radio- collars for monitoring. Captive lemurs had limited semi-free-ranging experience, were quarantined and underwent veterinary screens before their reintroduction in groups into habitat with predators and resident wild lemurs. They were recaptured and treated when sick and provided with supplementary food and water for a certain period of time. Dead lemurs were examined to determine the cause of death. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Reintroduce primates into habitat where the species is present Primate Conservation

A controlled study in 1997–2001 in tropical forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that diets of captive-bred black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that were born and raised in a free-ranging environment and were later reintroduced into habitat already occupied by the species along with other interventions, overlapped with that of the resident wild group. No statistical tests were carried out. Reintroduced lemurs (three males and two females) fed on 92 species over three years, while the wild group (ten individuals) fed on 109 species over four years. Reintroduced lemurs consumed less foliage throughout the study and less nectar in 1998 than the wild group did, although no statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this difference was significant. Two males died of malnutrition in 1998. Lemurs were introduced in groups and provided supplementary food during resource-scarce periods. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Reintroduce primates in groups Primate Conservation

A before-and-after trial in 1997-2002 in primary forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that less than half of all captive-bred, parent-reared black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that were reintroduced in groups along with ten other interventions, survived until the end of the study period of five years. Five (38.5%) of 13 individuals survived in the wild and six individuals were born, of which four survived. One female and one male reproduced with resident wild lemurs and the male became fully integrated. Lemurs were released as either family groups or constructed pairings. All released animals were fitted with radio- collars. Captive lemurs had limited semi-free-ranging experience, were quarantined and underwent veterinary screens before their reintroduction into habitat with predators and resident wild lemurs. They were recaptured and treated when sick and provided with supplementary food and water for a certain period of time. They were allowed to adapt to local habitat conditions before release. Dead lemurs were examined. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.