The Phi Beta Kappa Society sponsors a Visiting Scholar Program. The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the host campus by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholar and the resident faculty and students. Each year 13-14 distinguished scholars visit over 100 colleges and universities for two days. The scholars meet informally with students and faculty members, take part in classroom discussion, and give a public lecture open to the entire academic community. The Delta chapter hosts a visiting scholar every few years.
Public Lecture: Back from the brink of extinction: Saving lemurs in Madagascar
Dr. Patricia Wright, Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology, Stony Brook University
March 6, 2017, 7:30 p.m., Rotunda
Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, is known as a “treasure island” for nature lovers. Isolated for 150 million years from other land masses, the bizarre plants, extraordinary animals and contrasting habitats in Madagascar are found no where else. Unfortunately, this rich paradise for biodiversity is under severe threat. Madagascar contains a quarter of all the wild primates in the world, yet according to the latest IUCN tally, 94% of the lemurs are endangered, critically endangered or threatened, more than any other group of mammals. Ninety-five per cent of the forests have been burned and only five percent of the original habitats exist. The people are in trouble too. World Bank reports that Madagascar is the 10th poorest country in the world because of the loss of natural resources and bad governance. Saving the remaining Nature and growing the forests back are a challenge. I describe a successful thirty-year old truly integrated conservation and development project with a foundation in research. Accomplishing a “conservation hub” including a national park, a modern research station (Centre ValBio) ecotourism, conservation education, improved health, reforestation with endemic trees, environmental arts, biodiversity science and local businesses has improved the lives and well being of people and wildlife around and in Ranomafana National Park. Protecting our distant relatives, Madagascar’s lemurs, into the future, may offer genetic insights into medical solutions for human diseases including Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cyanide poisoning, obesity and osteoporosis. There are many reasons that the international community should preserve the living treasures of Madagascar.