Madagascar Lemur (Sifaka) Database
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Photograph by Alison Richard
Photograph by Diane Brockman
Photograph by Diane Brockman

Brief Description and Purpose

The Sifaka Database includes information on over 750 individuals from a wild population of Propithecus verreauxi that were captured, marked, released and monitored at Bezà Mahafaly between September 1984 and March 2012.  Its purpose is to support excellent science, serve as a resource for teaching, and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in and around the Bezà Mahafaly Special Reserve in southwest Madagascar.   The Reserve is the focus of a longstanding, community-based conservation partnership.  For additional information about partnership activities, visit


The Sifaka Database comprises (1) seven tables in Excel spreadsheets, (2) those tables in an Access database that allows users to establish links by individual ID, social group and/or date, and (3) digital copies of original capture sheets.  The tables include the following:

-     capture information

-     annual or biannual censuses of all tagged individuals

-     ages of all tagged individuals by year

-     reproductive history of all tagged females

-     life history information for all tagged individuals

-     history of named social groups

-     morphometrics

Examples of tables are given here.   The Sifaka Data Manual provides further information about the Database and data collection methods.  


The Database is accessioned to the collections of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University (YPM) under a collaborative agreement between YPM and the Ecole des Sciences Supérieures Agronomiques (ESSA), Université d’Antananarivo.   Primary and secondary sources for the Database are stored digitally in the Museum Archives.


Use of the Database is encouraged.  Procedures for obtaining access and general conditions of use are described here.  Those interested in using the Database should contact Kristof Zyskowski (YPM) or Jeannin Ranaivonasy (ESSA).


A Steering Committee provides general oversight of the Database. The Committee has seven members, including researchers in Madagascar and the US who have contributed to the Database, and YPM professional management staff.  A YPM curator chairs the Committee.  At this time, Committee members are as follows:  Eric Sargis (chair, YPM and Anthropology, Yale University), Diane Brockman (Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Richard Lawler (James Madison University), (Jeannin Ranaivonasy (Eaux et Forêts, ESSA, Université d’Antananarivo), Joelisoa Ratsirarson (Eaux et Forêts, ESSA, Université d’Antananarivo), Alison Richard (Anthropology, Yale University), Tim White (YPM).


Information from this Database has been contributed to the Primate Life History Database, which includes longitudinal data from seven populations of wild primates.



Contributors to Database

The Database was created and managed by Marion Schwartz, and was accessioned to the Yale Peabody Museum as the Schwartz Database.  Many people contributed to the collection of data. Past and present members of the Bezà Mahafaly monitoring team who assisted with capture and data collection are: Behaligno, Emahalala Ellis, Edouard, Enafa, Elahavelo, Rigobert Emady, Edidy Ellis, Efitiria, Sylvain Eboroke, Ny Andry Ranarivelo, Jeannicq Randrianarisoa, Sylvia Ravelonjatovo, Elysé Razanajaonarivalona, Helian Ratsirarson, Miandrisoa Razafindraibe, and Jacky Youssouf.  Enafa was responsible for the collection of monthly data from 1995.  Diane Brockman, Richard Lawler, Marion Schwartz, Patricia Whitten, Kashka Kubzdela, Laurie Godfrey, and Robert Dewar contributed data collected while doing research at Bezà Mahafaly.   


The sifaka monitoring program was established by Alison Richard and Pothin Rakotomanga in 1984.  When M. Rakotomanga retired in 1996, Joelisoa Ratsirarson became co-director of the program with Alison Richard, with the assistance of Jeannin Ranaivonasy.  From 2005, staff of Madagascar National Parks stationed at the Bezà Mahafaly Special Reserve provided active support to the monitoring program.


From 1993, annual grants to support the Partnership for Community-based Monitoring and Conservation of Biodiversity in Southwest Madagascar were provided by the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation to Joelisoa Ratsirarson and Alison Richard.  Research and monitoring activities were also supported by the US National Science Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, and Schwartz Family Foundation Trust.



Examples of Spreadsheets

Example Access Database

Example of Capture Sheet