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EcoSounds Madagaskar

The Menabe Antimena Protected Area (APMA) in Western Madagascar is a vital global biodiversity hotspot with high levels of endemism, housing many endangered species. However, the natural habitats of APMA face threats from various illegal human activities, including slash-and-burn agriculture, overfishing, poaching, illegal logging, introduction of invasive species, and wood consumption for charcoal production. Recognizing the problem, several initiatives, including Chances for Nature (CfN), have been working since 2014 to protect biodiversity through research, reforestation, education, and collaboration with local communities.

One critical aspect lacking in Menabe, as well as many other areas in Madagascar, is continuous monitoring of the success of conservation measures in protecting endangered species. This includes monitoring biodiversity in response to human-induced pressures and assessing the positive effects of conservation measures on population numbers and distribution.

Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) is a method gaining attention in the conservation and research community. PAM utilizes autonomous recording units (ARU) to capture the soundscape of a specific environment, allowing for the simultaneous monitoring of vocally active species. Despite its potential, PAM has been rarely used in Madagascar due to challenges such as the lack of reference calls for endangered Malagasy taxa and difficulties in developing automatic acoustic analysis workflows.

Zoos and zoological gardens that keep Malagasy species can support the project by helping to describe the vocal repertoire of species found in the project area or in Madagascar. This will facilitate automatic computerised identification, as for many species no example calls exist. In this way, zoological personnel can actively participate in the process of acoustic species identification via online platforms.

The overall objective of this project is to contribute to in situ endangered species management in the Menabe Antimena Protected Area (and potentially in other regions in Madagascar) through the development of Passive Acoustic Monitoring for endangered species and ecosystem monitoring.

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