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Exploring the Role of Wealth and Religion on the Ownership of Captive Lemurs in Madagascar Using Qualitative and Quantitative Data

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Abstract

Primates are kept as pets for various reasons including as indicators of wealth. Ownership of primates can also be influenced by religion. In Madagascar, thousands of lemurs are kept as pets, but the roles of wealth and religion in the ownership of captive lemurs have not been explored. We use quantitative and qualitative data to examine these aspects of ownership. Quantitative data were collected (July to August 2016) in households (n = 596) of 12 urban and rural towns in Madagascar using semi-structured interviews. International standards for research ethics were followed. Research was approved by an ethics oversight committee. We also opportunistically visited 13 religious facilities. Qualitative data were used to frame the context of the quantitative data. We found that pet lemur owners do not speak about their lemurs as a symbol of wealth, but non-owners associate pet lemurs with wealth. Therefore, status/wealth may be a motivating factor in the ownership of pet lemurs. We also found evidence that Catholic entities in Madagascar sometimes take in captive lemurs when the owner can no longer care for the animal (be-ing viewed as animal-friendly institutions). However, we did not find evidence of religion (institutional or traditional) influencing the ownership of pet lemurs.
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... Global wildlife trade for the exchange of luxury goods, food consumption, traditional medicine and pet trade is considered as one of the leading threats to biodiversity conservation (Challender, Harrop, & Macmillan, 2014;Rosen & Smith, 2010;Tingley, Harris, Hua, Wilcove, & Ding, 2017). Trade of exotic, non-domesticated wildlife as exotic pets has grown substantially (Bush, Baker, & Macdonald, 2014;Reuter et al., 2018). Exotic pets can be defined as animals that are non-indigenous or non-native, and/or non-domesticated (Warwick et al., 2018). ...
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