The smallest relative of humans is the Madame Berthe mouse lemur. This nocturnal mammal, weighing barely 30 grams, was discovered in 1992 in the dry deciduous forest on the west coast of Madagascar. During Corona, this forest was almost completely burned by refugees from the south, which is drying out due to climate changes. Corn and peanuts were grown on the ash remains, but now the former forest has turned into barren steppe. It was already feared that Madam Berthe would become extinct due to habitat loss.
However, this critically endangered mammal also occurs in the Zazamalala nature reserve. This summer, Zazamalala opened to the public as a nature reserve and reforestation project. There are 11 species of primates, but Madam Berthe’s discovery was a huge surprise.
Simon Rietveld: Two Madame Berthe mouse lemurs were photographed in the Zazamalala forest using an infrared camera. Our biologist couldn’t believe his
eyes. There used to be a continuous forest here on the west coast of Madagascar, but now almost everything has been destroyed and we have a green oasis
at Zazamalala. But we are working hard to scale up Zazamalala to 1,000 hectares of original forest by 2025.’