Madagascar Lemurs: The Sifaka Database


The sifaka lemur (Propithecus verreauxi) has been studied at the Bezà Mahafaly Special Reserve in southwest Madagascar since 1974. The Yale Peabody Museum hosts a long-term database of information, from over 25 years of observations, collected there on more than 750 individuals from a wild population that were captured, marked, released, and monitored from September 1984 through March 2012.

The Bezà Reserve is a remarkable and successful long-standing, community-based conservation partnership between the local community and researchers. Former Peabody director Alison Richard, who has conducted research at Bezà for decades, has been a pioneer in such approaches. Scientists recognize that the conservation of biodiversity ultimately depends on local allies. Community-based conservation supports livelihoods that avoid compromising biologically rich ecosystems. At Bezà, the production of salt from deposits left by an ancient sea provides an export product with minimal harm to the environment.

How to Access the Sifaka Database

The Sifaka Database is accessioned in the Yale Peabody Museum collections under a collaborative agreement between the Peabody and the Ecole des Sciences Supérieures Agronomiques (ESSA), Université d’Antananarivo, in Madagascar. Primary and secondary sources are stored digitally in the Peabody Museum’s collections database.

We encourage you to explore the Sifaka Database. For access and general conditions of use contact Peabody Collection Manager Kristof Zyskowski or ESSA’s Jeannin Ranaivonasy.

Kristof Zyskowski Collections Manager,
Vertebrate Zoology
+1 203 432 9821

The Sifaka Database is made up of the following components.

1. There are 7 tables in Excel spreadsheets that include:

  • 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.

2. These same 7 tables in an Access database that allows users to establish links by individual ID, social group, and/or date.

3. Digital copies of original capture sheets.

Examples of tables are given here. See the Sifaka Data Manual for more information about the database and data collection methods.

Complete accuracy of data and metadata are not guaranteed. All data and metadata are made available “as is.”

Information from the Sifaka Database has been contributed to the Primate Life History Database, which includes longitudinal data from 7 populations of wild primates.

How to cite the database:
Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, and Ecole des Sciences Supérieures Agronomiques, Université d’Antananarivo. 2013. Schwartz Database, Bezà Mahafaly sifaka. (accessed: month/day/year).

Steering Committee

The Sifaka Database Steering Committee provides general oversight. The Committee has 7 members, is chaired by a Yale Peabody Museum curator, and includes contributing researchers in Madagascar and the United States, and Peabody professional management staff.

Eric Sargis, Chair
Department of Anthropology, Yale University
Curator, Mammalogy, Yale Peabody Museum

Diane Brockman
Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Richard Lawler
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, James Madison University
Jeannin Ranaivonasy
Eaux et Forêts, ESSA, Université d’Antananarivo

Joelisoa Ratsirarson
Eaux et Forêts, ESSA, Université d’Antananarivo

Alison Richard
Department of Anthropology, Yale University

Tim White
Director of Collections and Research, Yale Peabody Museum

Contributors to the Database

The Sifaka Database was created and managed by Marion Schwartz and accessioned by 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 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 U.S. National Science Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, and the Schwartz Family Foundation Trust.