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Jacyntha, proud woman, primatologist!

Primatology is the science that studies primates, including lemurs. No discovery or study could be made without the proven skills and commitments of primatologists.

The faculty of sciences of Madagascar has emerged several primatologists, among them, Jacyntha Ambinintsoa. This woman of the field, mother of a family and emeritus scientist is also technical manager in the southwest of Madagascar within the WWF.

- Why did you decide to study primatology?
I have always loved lemurs, as simple as that, I wanted to discover the maximum of things about these animals. Moreover, my father inspired me to do this job because he worked in the field of biodiversity conservation.  I am following his footsteps.

- What are the opportunities that come with these studies?
There are many options, contrary to prejudices, no we don't all work on lemurs. One can work in tourism, research, conservation in general and why not become a teacher?

- Is being a primatologist suitable for women? Why?
Why not? I am living proof of that. You just have to give yourself the means to do it and be very demanding in terms of objectives. Yes, there is the aspect of going to the forest, the difficulties of being in the field, but it is not a block.

- Tell us briefly about your career path to inspire other young women. 
I got my DEA in Conservation Biology from the Faculty of Sciences of Tana.
After my degree, I did not immediately find a job, so I followed a training course provided by the ATBC, "Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation". In 2016, I got my first job as a research assistant in a conservation organization. I then became a lemur research project manager in the same organization. I started another training at Middlesex University in Mauritius on the management of critically endangered species. Today, I work as a technical officer for protected areas and terrestrial biodiversity within WWF in the Mahafaly landscape.
I have to admit that I was unemployed for several months before I found my first job in conservation. But this helped me to build my patience, not to be discouraged, to be optimistic while improving my knowledge and experience through training, internship or volunteering.

- Are you passionate about one species of primates in particular? Which one and why?
I love all lemurs in general, but I am particularly passionate about the Sifaka (Propitecus verrauxi). Did you know that this species does not drink water? It draws water from the plants it eats to hydrate itself! This is a behavior that the Sifaka has developed to adapt to the environment in which it lives.
- What perspective do you have for primatology in Madagascar?
A great primatologist once said, France has the Eifel Tower, Egypt has the pyramids and we in Madagascar have lemurs, which are found nowhere else. I would like the science that helps to know these national treasures to be better valued and promoted in Madagascar. Primatology helps first of all to know the lemurs but also contributes to protect them in an efficient and sustainable way.

- Primatologists, you are important for science!
Nearly a third (31%) of all lemur species in Madagascar are now critically endangered, just one step away from extinction, and 98% of them are threatened, according to the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. So yes, we are important to science, to the world because we are actively involved in saving lemurs.

- A discovery about lemurs that made an impression on you?
In 2014, during a research, I followed Sifaka for several months, I noticed that they were very united and embodied the value of "fihavanana" as we would say in Malagasy, it's amazing coming from animals, they protect and help each other a lot.