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Jun
6

Strawberry Cheesecake

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A Summer Indulgence!

If you are anything like me, you understand the anticipation and joy that summer Saturday mornings can bring.  I awake each Saturday for a quick run on the Monon Trail and hurriedly shower so that I can be parked and ready, bag in hand, for the Carmel Farmer’s Market.  The fresh, local produce, buzz of energy, and delicious breakfast goodies put a song in my step that lasts all day long.  There’s something almost therapeutic about running my hands over the vegetables as I make my selections, knowing that the man or woman standing behind the table has put a labor of love into growing the produce before me.  This month, I know that soon enough cartons of fresh, red, ripe strawberries will be waiting for me.  That’s why when I was thinking about what I wanted to share with you this month, a fresh strawberry chocolate cheesecake just sounded sooooooo right.

Since strawberries haven’t quite emerged at the market, I went to Whole Foods to gather all my supplies.  It must have been my lucky day, because Organic Strawberries were on sale! Woot!

straw 1

 Here is what you will need (recipe can be found at the bottom of this post):

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To start, make the crust by pulverized one full sleeve of graham crackers either in a plastic baggy or a food processer.  Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and 5 tablespoons of melted butter.  Toss with a spatula or fork. Next, prepare your round pan by first coating with a thin layer of butter, lining with parchment, and lastly coating the parchment with butter as well.This is done for ease of removal from the pan!

straw 3

Now you can press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan, cautious to keep this layer even so that you don’t have any really thick spots of crust.

straw 4

Place the crust in the oven at 300 F for 6-8 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool while you prepare the batter.  Increase oven temperature to 500 F.

Begin by creaming all of the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Trust me when I say the Hulk couldn’t mix this entire batter by hand. (medium speed, 1 minute)

Scrape down the sides and add ¾ cup of sugar and a dash of salt.  Mix again (medium speed, 1 minute).  Add another ¾ cup of sugar and mix (low speed, 1 minute).  Scrape down the sides.  Your mixture should gradually be looking fluffier than when we began.

straw 5

Now let’s add 1/3 cup of plain Greek yogurt, the squeeze of ½ a lemon and 2 teaspoons of quality vanilla.  Beat on low until just combined.  Once there, add 2 egg yolks, mix, 2 eggs, mix, 2 more eggs, mix and the last 2 eggs, mix, all on low speed and just until combined.  Over mixing once the eggs are being added will actually whip the eggs, causing the cheesecake to be more meringue like.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and place in the oven. 

straw 6

After 10 minutes, drop the temperature setting to 200 F.  The initial high temperature “sets” the cake so that we do not have to use a water bath (which drives me nuts because I inevitably always get water in or on my cheesecake…..am I the only one with this problem?).

After 1 hour 15 min – 1 ½ hours, the cake should be ready to cool.  An easy check if your cake is ready to be pulled from the oven is to use a thermometer placed in the center of the cake.  Target center temperature is anywhere from 145 F – 155 F.

Let the cheesecake cool at room temperature until it can be easily carried in the pan.  Move the cake to the refrigerator to completely cool and set.  Meanwhile, make your topping.

Wash and slice one pint of strawberries.  I like to cut them in halves, but you can slice them however you like.  Add ¼ cup to ½ cup of sugar to the strawberries and set aside (I let them sit for about an hour).  Boil down 1 cup of strawberry jam (this Crofters brand that I purchased is Biodynamic – how cool is that!) on a cooktop set to medium heat.  Stir the jam with a wire whisk for 3 minutes while heating just to help thicken the sauce and develop a more cooked flavor.  Remove from the heat, squeeze in ½ lemon’s juice and add a dash of salt.  Add this mixture to the strawberries and toss.

Once the cheese cake has completely cooled and is firm to touch, remove from the pan, using the paper liner to slide the cake off onto a platter.  Top with the strawberry mixture.  And, because things aren’t decadent until there’s chocolate involved, melt 1-2 Endangered Species Chocolate smooth dark chocolate bars in the microwave and drizzle generously over the entire cake.

straw 7

Taa Daa!

The office really enjoyed this very special afternoon treat.  Made with organic and GMO free ingredients, this is one cheesecake that you can feel good about (in moderation of course)!

Good Ingredients.

Good Cause.

Good Indulgence.

Happy Summer my friends!

Crust

1 sleeve of Organic graham crackers (9 sheets)

1 tbsp sugar

5 tbsp unsalted butter

Filling

5, 8 oz packages of Organic cream cheese (40 oz)

1/3 cup Organic plain Greek yogurt

1 ½ cups sugar

Dash of salt

2 egg yolks and 6 whole eggs

Juice of ½ lemon squeezed

2 tsp vanilla

Topping

1 pint of strawberries

Sugar to taste

1 cup of organic or biodynamic strawberry jam

Juice of ½ lemon squeezed

1-2 Endangered Species Chocolate 72% cacao Smooth Dark Chocolate bars (3-6 oz)

 

May
22

Lemur Lovin’

lemurblog_22614Guest post submitted by Catherine Olteanu, Lemur Conservation Foundation.

Sobe and Sassy, meet Molson!

Two ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) breeding pairs are among the eight approved breeding pairs for Lemur Conservation Foundation‘s colony this year.

One of our male ring-tailed lemurs, Molson, has a recommendation to breed with both Sobe and her twin sister Sarsaparilla (aka Sassy), two new additions at Lemur Conservation Foundation (LCF). Sobe and Sassy arrived in the fall of 2013 from Duke Lemur Center as part of the Ring-tailed Lemur Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP makes recommendations that maintain optimal populations in captive breeding programs.

Sobe, Sassy and Molson spent some time in our enclosures before being released into the forests together. You can watch them enter the forest for the first time in this video.

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A Model Mother

Ansell with her twins

Ansell with her twins

Another pair of ring-tailed lemurs at LCF, Yuengling and Ansell, have been a recommended breeding pair for a few years. Ansell has already given birth to multiple, healthy offspring including a pair of female twins born in April 2013.

All of Ansell’s infants were born in LCF’s forests. She is an experienced mother that raised her offspring in the forests while also leading her troop, much like she would do in Madagascar – the only place in the world where lemurs live in the wild.

This chart shows the North American peak breeding and birth times for lemur pairs at Lemur Conservation Foundation.

 

 


SPECIES PEAK BREEDING SEASON PEAK BIRTH SEASON
Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) Oct-Dec Mar-May
Red ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra) Jan-Feb Apr-May
Collared lemur (Eulemur collaris) Nov-Jan Mar-May
Mongoose lemur (Eulemur mongoz) Nov-Feb Mar-June

 

The Lemur Conservation Foundation

The Lemur Conservation Foundation, a 200 acre private reserve located in Myakka City, Florida, holds six species of lemurs, including ring-tails. Our free ranging colony lives in native forests in multi species groups much like they do in Madagascar.  We are dedicated to the conservation and preservation of lemurs through captive breeding, education, art, observation based research, and partnerships.  LCF is a managing member of The Madagascar Fauna Group and two species survival plans, including the SSP for lemur catta.

May
6

My First Tribal Bazaar!

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Whole Foods Market NorCal | Tribal Bazaar Vendor Floor, April 2014

Last week I had the privilege of attending my very first Tribal Bazaar.  This event is held by Whole Foods for employees to learn more about the wonderful brands that are sold in their stores.  As a vendor, we had the opportunity to share our newest collection, The Filled Bars, with attendees and educate them on what makes the product and our company so unique.  It was humbling to see such an overwhelmingly positive response to both our chocolate and our mission.  It was also really cool to listen to employee’s stories about what they do and why they love working at Whole Foods.  I can tell you that when you go into a Whole Foods store the people that work there love the products they sell, and just as important can help you make educated choices on the goods you purchase because of events like the Tribal Bazaar.

In between shifts of attendees I had the chance to walk the vendor floor and do a little exploring of my own.  These cute little chicks were getting a lot of attention and I couldn’t resist the chance to hold one.  Their soft feathers and sweet chirps will instantly put a smile on anyone’s face!

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Back to the goods – It amazes me how many awesome vegan products are out there!  Since it wouldn’t be fair for me to keep all these cool products to myself (although the samples I brought back may or may not have already been taste tested), I thought I would share a few of the ones that I enjoyed.  This is not paid advertising or anything like that – just a girl sharing some cool stuff!

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This line of performance drinks and shakes is impressive.  The people at Vega are passionate about their product – as they should be!  I’m going to try and incorporate some of this in next month’s recipe post…..mmmm chocolate shakes?

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I didn’t have much time for lunch, so these Sea Salt Tortilla chips from Late July and fruit gummies from Tasty kept me going!  It’s a good thing those chips were portion controlled – I would have gone crazy on a full bag!

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I happened to be stationed right across from all the lovely bath products – a personal weakness of mine.  The Seaweed Bath Company was gracious enough to share lots of samples with me and I can’t wait to see how their lotion tackles my dry hands.  They have a full line of goodies which I also stocked up on.  (Psst….the body cream contains cocoa butter…..proof that chocolate can cure anything!)

All in all, it was a successful and rewarding week spent in San Francisco.  The flood of compliments given to our chocolate and our cause served as reminder of how blessed I am to work for a company like Endangered Species.  I will leave you with a shot of the bay, both enchanting and invigorating.  Enjoy!

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Apr
21

Chocolate Bar at Work

ESDay

Friday, May 16th is Endangered Species Day – a day to recognize conservation efforts to save at-risk species and habitats. Let’s celebrate the fact that over the past three years, you’ve helped us raise over $855,000 for conservation groups!  Take a closer look at specific programs your Endangered Species Chocolate purchases and our 10% Promise are funding.

ESC Day AWF

 Partner: African Wildlife Foundation | Program: African Apes Initiative

“Endangered Species Chocolate’s 10% GiveBack program is making a demonstrable difference in helping AWF to conserve the natural resources and heritage that are vital to Africa’s environmental and economic prosperity.” – Kurt Redenbo, Director, Foundation & Corporate Relations, African Wildlife Foundation

Africa is home to 4 of the world’s 5 great ape species. Unfortunately, all 4 are endangered or critically endangered. Through the newly launched African Apes Initiative, AWF works throughout West and Central Africa to protect great apes and their habitats.

  • AWF prioritizes those great ape habitats most in need of conservation intervention;
  • They work with park authorities and other on-the-ground partners to identify gaps in local conservation support;
  • This program provides seed grants and technical support for critical interventions;
  • AWF implements long term conservation strategies. Learn much more here.

ESC Day Xerces Bee

Partner: The Xerces Society | Program: Bumble Bee Watch

“[Endangered Species Chocolate's 10% donation] allows us to expand our work to protect pollinators in all landscapes across the U.S.” – Scott Black, Executive Director, The Xerces Society

Bumble Bee Watch is a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. This citizen science project allows for individuals to:

  • Upload photos of bumble bees to start a virtual bumble bee collection;
  • Identify the bumble bees in your photos and have your identifications verified by experts;
  • Help researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumble bees;
  • Learn about bumble bees, their ecology, and ongoing conservation efforts; and
  • Connect with other citizen scientists.

ESC Day SEETurtles

 Partner: SEE Turtles | Program: Billion Baby Turtles

“Over the past 3 years, Endangered Species Chocolate grew to be the single largest supporter of SEE Turtles and SEEtheWILD, support that has been critical to the success of our programs.” – SEE Turtles 10% Promise Report

6 out of 7 species of sea turtles around the world are endangered or threatened. SEE Turtle program, Billion Baby Turtles,  is helping reverse this decline by saving one billion baby turtles over the next decade. For every $1 raised, SEE Turtles saves at least 1 hatchling. Funds support vital nesting beach patrols across Latin America:

  • Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative
  • Las Tortugas Research Station
  • Paso Pacifico
  • WILDCAST Costa Rica
  • Cuba Marine Research & Conservation
  • Flora, Fauna y Cultura

Be sure to join us on Facebook, May 12-16 2014, for a chocolate giveaway to celebrate Endangered Species Day! “Like” our 10% GiveBack Partners, XXX, XXX, XXX for additional opportunities to win.

Apr
4

Tiger Trifle Recipe

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Do any of you LOVE brunch as much as I do?  I enjoy it especially at this time of year when the tulips are blooming and fruits and veggies are bright.  Inspired by the thought of sitting down with friends and family to share the mid-morning sun and some great grub, I whipped up this dairy and gluten-free Tiger Trifle.  If you like tiramisu – you are going to love this recipe!  Here’s the run down…

You will need:

2 boxes of gluten free lady fingers

1 cup brewed coffee, cold

2 Endangered Species Chocolate with Espresso Beans bars

1 11oz carton of So Delicious coconut milk

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Juice from 1/2 lemon or 2 tablespoons of red wine

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Start by layering half of your lady fingers in the bottom of the bowl (or pan, it doesn’t have to look pretty!).  If you aren’t into eggs, which are in lady fingers, you can substitute with any vegan and gluten free shortbread cookie or pound cake of your liking!

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Next, chop up one chocolate bar and add half of what you chop to the bowl (this is getting good….really good).

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Pour about 1/4 cup of the cold coffee over your ladyfingers layer.  You can add more or less – it’s all up to you!

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Now we make the cream – my favorite step!  Have you used this cooking coconut milk from So Delicious? It’s a vegan cook’s dream!

You are going to put this, along with the confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a high speed mixer.  After combining, add about 2 tablespoons of the cold coffee.  After mixing again, add your choice of the lemon juice or red wine.   This is for the acidic punch our cream needs to balance all the sweetness going on elsewhere.  The lemon juice will contribute a bit of brightness while the wine will bring out more bold, deep chocolate and coffee flavors.  

Your cream should be fairly stiff.  If not, add a touch more sugar until the consistency is to your liking.  Spread 1/2 of the cream on top of the existing layers in your bowl.

And because one layer isn’t enough, we repeat the exact same steps building up the layers of our trifle.

And because this is the tiger trifle, grab a grater and shave the other chocolate bar all over the top of your delicious creation!

I know it’s a lot to ask, but put the trifle in the refrigerator and step away…..this is best served chilled, the next day.

Enjoy with friends, family, or just a really big spoon.

 TT4

Happy Indulging!

Whitney B

Mar
18

Lots About Lemurs

By Guest Blogger  //  Species in Need.  //  No Comments

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lemur_main__50378_zoomExperts at Lemur Conservation Foundation helped us get our facts straight for the animal info-graphic found inside our Endangered Species Chocolate Coconut Creme Filled Bar. But…you can only fit so many lemur facts inside a chocolate wrapper! Our friends at Lemur Conservation Foundation offered up this broader picture of this highly social, super smart species.

 

Guest post via Catherine Olteanu, Communications and Development at Lemur Conservation Foundation

Ring-tailed lemur Species

Ring-tailed lemurs were first mentioned in western literature around 1625 in Samuel Purchas’s popular ‘Pilgrimages’ or travel logs.  In his writing Purchas describes ring-tailed lemurs as being about the size of a monkey with a face like a fox and having a long tail with black and white rings.   Carl Linnaeus might have been familiar with Purchas’s work, and with the 1729 journal of Robert Drury, an English sailor shipwrecked on Madagascar for fifteen years. Drury’s journal is one of the oldest written accounts of life in southern Madagascar, the home of the Ring-tailed lemur.

Linnaeus looked to the works of Ovid and Virgil for the term ‘Lemur’ and its reference to ‘Lemuria,’ a Roman festival during which ghosts were exorcised.  It is descriptive of some lemurs’ nocturnal habits, noiseless movements, reflective eyes, and ghost like cries and appearance.  Today lemurs are known as ‘ghosts of the forest.’ 

LEMUR 50 I Gunilla DSC_0058ps

photo courtesy of Lemur Conservation Foundation

Lemurs, found only on the island of Madagascar, are some of the most unique and the most endangered animals in the world.  Scientists theorize that they arrived in Madagascar as a result of rare rafting or swimming events that brought them to the island from the African continent.  Once in Madagascar they evolved in ecosystems that rival the Amazon basin in biodiversity.  Among

the 103 species of lemurs only the Ring-tailed lemurs is classified as its own genus. It is the type species for the genus of ‘Lemur.’ 

Known scientifically as Lemur catta, and as ’Maki’ or ‘Hira’ in the Malagasy language, they are highly adaptable with a range

covering a large portion of southern Madagascar’s diverse geography. They breed successfully in captivity. Despite their success as a species ring-tailed lemurs, like virtually all of Madagascar’s species of lemurs, face severe challenges to their survival. The 2012 assessment of Madagascar’s fauna by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature documented 91% of lemur species as ‘Critically Endangered,’ ‘Endangered,’ or ‘Vulnerable.’ 

According to Dr. Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International and Chairperson of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group, lemurs are the most threatened primate on earth. Ring-tailed lemurs are listed as ‘Near Threatened,’ with declining wild populations and habitat that is shrinking faster than any other in Madagascar.  As we observe Ring-tailed lemurs in their natural habitats we can learn what they need to survive as a species and how we can better manage precious resources.

Physical Characteristics

Adult lemur catta are about the size of a house cat which is relatively large for lemurs. They weigh approximately six pounds, and have an average body length of seventeen inches, not including their tails.  Their lower incisors form a ‘tooth comb’ which is used in their oral grooming behaviors. They also have a ‘toilet claw,’ a specialized claw on their second toe that is used to groom fur that cannot be reached for oral grooming. Their long slender frames and narrow faces are covered with dense fur that is white on their chest and throat and grey to dark grey-brown on their backs. 

LEMUR 50 I Gunilla DSC_0269ps

photo courtesy of Lemur Conservation Foundation

Beneath their fur ring-tailed lemurs have black skin which is visible on their palms, the soles of their feet, and around the throat where their fur is less dense than on their backs and chest.  Their skin is leathery with dermal ridges on their hands and feet. The dermal ridges, common to all primates, help improve grip and facilitate terrestrial movement.  Their feet are more specialized that their hands with an opposable big toe instead of an opposable thumb.  Ring-tails have feet more adapted to terrestrial movement compared to other lemurs that spend all of their lives in the forest canopy.

The ring-tailed lemur’s distinctive bushy, ‘balancing tails’ that are about twenty-four inches long with alternating black and white bands giving them their distinctive look and popular name.  Tails have twelve or thirteen white bands and thirteen to fourteen black bands, and always e

nd in a black tip.  Ring-tailed lemurs use their tails used to help stabilize their movements in the forest canopy unlike some

primates who use their tails for gripping branches. They also use their tails for communication, and group cohesion. 

Distribution

Ring-tailed lemurs are endemic to the south and southwestern regions of Madagascar.  They have adapted to a variety of habitats from deciduous forests, montane humid forests, scrub, and gallery forests.  Although their distribution is quite wide across southern Madagascar and its variety of habitats today they are only found in a few special protected areas. Their population density varies, often dramatically.

Within their habitats ring-tailed lemurs live in ‘troops’ that average 13 to 15 individuals, although troops of up to 30 have been documented.  A troop needs between 15 to 85 acres of ‘home range’ territory.  Things like troop size, population density and the size of a troop’s home range area vary with the availability of food.

Ring-tailed lemur troops usually stay in a section of their home range for up to four days before moving.  After a few days in one location a troop will move a little more than a half mile inside their home range. 

Diet

The ring-tailed lemur is an omnivore and survives on a varied diet.  They range widely and feed opportunistically form a variety of plants, insects, and the occasional small vertebrate prey.

The leaves and fruit of the tamarind tree can provide up to fifty percent of a wild ring-tailed lemur’s diet along with available fruits, leaves, flowers, herbs, bark, sap, and have been observed eating pollens.

The forests where ring-tailed lemurs live does not have continuous vegetation and they must frequently travel on the ground as they move and forage for food. As they travel the ring-tail’s diet becomes more opportunistic, especially during the dry season.

Behavior

Ring-tailed lemurs are diurnal, with activity taking place both in the day and in the night. Because they live in the desert they take advantage of cooler temperatures after dark. Their troops have a well-defined female hierarchy with a dominant alpha female. Females are usually dominant over males but there is competition among the females for the alpha female position.

LEMUR 50 Nicole Begley Catta on Branch

photo courtesy of Lemur Conservation Foundation

Females live in the same group all of their lives.  Young male ring-tailed lemurs migrate to a new group when they are 3 to 5 years old.  When they leave their natal group they often travel in pair or groups of three to search for and successfully integrate into a new troop.  If they are successful at finding a new troop they challenge the resident males for access to the females for breeding. 

Their challenges include a unique behavior called ‘stink fighting.’ Ring-tailed males use their wrist and shoulder glands to mark their tails then shake them at the other males.  During breeding season they might also engage in ‘jump fighting,’ a more violent and aggressive behavior than stink fighting.

Both male and female ring-tailed lemurs use scent marking to note the edges of their troop’s home range.  Territorial disputes can occur when ring-tailed groups meet at home range boundaries. The dominant female defends the troop’s home range with behaviors like staring, lunging, and occasionally physical aggression. These encounters resolve with members of the troops moving toward the center of their home range.

Ring-tailed lemur vocalization range from the simple to the complex and can have transitions and variations in the calls. Some sounds are used to alert the troop to predators, infant distress, to mark location, and express contentment and range from meows and purring to clicks, yaps, moans, wails, squeaks and screams.  You can listen to ring-tailed lemur calls here.

Their tails are also used as a form of communication.  Members of a troop hold their tails high in the air while traveling to act as distance signals, keeping the troop together, and as a presence signal, warning other groups to stay away.

Like all lemurs lemur catta engage in the iconic ‘Sun Worshiping’ posture. Females, offspring, and males all sit very still with straight backs and arms stretched out to their sides. This typical morning behavior allows maximum exposure of the chest and stomach to the sun allowing them to warm themselves quickly after a cold night.

Reproduction

Lemur catta females usually give birth first at three years of age and then produce offspring annually.  Ma

ting begins in mid-April and lasts only a few weeks.  Infants are born in August and September after a gestation period of about 135 days.

Single infants are most common but twins are frequent when food is plentiful. The ring-tailed infants cling to their mother’s abdomen for about two weeks.  Then they ride on her back in the ‘jockey-style’ position.  Ring-tail babies grow very quickly. By four weeks of age they are ready to leave their mother and begin exploring their environment.

Females with offspring form a very tight social unit.  They will interact and travel together as well as share babysitting duties, feed & sleep together.  Females and offspring huddle together facing inward with their tails intertwined and held over each other’s back and shoulder forming a tight circle or ‘lemur ball.’ The ‘sleep formation’ is only shared by females and offspring. Mature males sleep on their own. The sleep formation is unique to ring-tailed lemurs. 

LEMUR ring tail 1

photo courtesy of Lemur Conservation Foundation

Threats

The biggest threat to ring-tailed lemurs is habitat loss from encroachment and slash and burn agriculture. Madagascar’s southern forests, the lemur catta’s only wild home, are sparse and easily cleared with even the simplest methods or tools for agriculture and other uses.  Satellite images of Madagascar suggest that their habitat is disappearing faster than any other on the island.  This encroachment is a significant reason for their ‘near threatened’ status on the IUCN Red List.

Responsible Viewing

Be sensitive to local customs and taboos that often involve animals and vary from place to place.

Most parks have ‘circuits’ of varying lengths and corresponding degrees of difficulty. Do not deviate from the routes or engage wildlife. Do not smoke in the forests. Stay on the trails and do not litter. Most areas require a guide.

Do not feed lemurs anywhere that you see them, whether in the forest or in resort or restaurant areas. Feeding can provoke aggression among the lemurs and also towards you. 

Never try to pick up a lemur, and warn children not to try to touch or pick up the animals.  Wild lemurs might approach you but they bite if they are frightened.

Where to View

You can view the ring-tailed lemur at several special protected reserves and in five of Madagascar’s national parks. The national parks in the ring-tail lemurs’ habitat are Andohahela National Park, Andgingitra National Park, Isalo national Park, Tsimananampetsotse National park, and Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park. 

LEMUR 1 I Gunilla

photo courtesy of Lemur Conservation Foundation

Madagascar National Parks & Special Reserves

Information about most of the parks and special reserves for watching lemur catta in the wild can be found at the Parcs Madagascar web site. A URL is included for private reserves like Berenty and Anja.

Madagascar’s national parks system was founded in 1990 as a management and conservation initiative for the country’s unique, rare, and often endangered flora and fauna.   There are 12 parks and special reserves in the ring-tails’ habitat. 

Special reserves like the Beza-Mehafaly Special Reserve, Kalambatritra Special Reserve, Ivohibe Special Reserve (part of the Madagascar national Parks system), the Berenty Special Reserve, and the Anja Community Reserve are popular viewing locations and offer unique experiences. Communities like Anja develop opportunities for visitors to come and enjoy Madagascar’s unique flora and fauna. Fees from visitors often are the major source of funding for the reserves.

Anja Community Reserve  

The Anja Community Reserve became a protected area in 1999. It covers 30 hectares and is known for its dense population of ring-tail lemurs.

‘Anja Reserve is the most visited community managed forest and ecotourist site in Madagascar. Anja has become a vital example of how community management of natural resources can both effectively protect the area and benefit the community.’

Berenty Reserve  

Berenty is a small private reserve situated among gallery forest on the Mandrake River.  This semi-arid eco-region in the far south of Madagascar includes spiny forest habitat.  It is a base for students and professional conservationists as well as visitors who want to see lemurs and other wildlife in their native habitat.

The reserve is a two hour drive from Tolangnaro, on the southeast cost of Madagascar. Accommodations are in the forest and there is a network of trails to enjoy.  Berenty the most visitors of any Madagascar nature reserve.

Beza Mahafaly

Beza Mahafaly has a large population of lemur catta as well as several other species of lemurs.  Research is also carried out at this special reserve by several international research organizations. You might see some lemurs with telemetry collars.

The reserve is in the South Western part of the island 35 kilo meters northeast of Betioky. Covering 600 hectares, Beza Mahafaly is the second smallest special protected area in the Madagascar national parks system.  

Ivohibe 

The ‘Peak of Ivohibe’ special protected area is in the south east of Madagascar and connects to Andringitra National Park by a 20 kilo meter forest corridor.  The mountain peak is 2060 meters in elevation.

photo courtesy of Lemur Conservation Foundation

photo courtesy of Lemur Conservation Foundation

Andgingitra National Park 

Andgingitra is known for its rough terrain including Mount Imarivolanitra with an elevation of 2658 m (8,720 ft.) as well as deep valleys and ridges. It is well known for its biodiversity and high concentration of endemic species. Over 200 species of animals are endemic to Andgingitra National Park.

Andohahela National Park 

Andohahela, in south east Madagascar, is the only protected area with both dense and humid forests. The Tropic of Capricorn crosses the park. Its unique geographic location connects the southern and eastern eco-regions.

Isalo National Park

Isalo is the most visited park in Madagascar. It is part of the Commune of Ranohira in the Ihorombe region. The park covers 81,540 hectares.  Significant landscape features include river furrows and a massive continental sandstone plateau dating from the Jurassic Period.

Tsimananampetsotse National Park

Tsimanampesotse is in the southwest part of Madagascar. It is among the original 10 reserves created in 1927, more than seventy years before the modern Madagascar National Parks system was adopted, and 6 years before Madagascar signed the 1933 London International Convention for the protection of fauna and flora in Africa. Tsimanampesotse has a unique saturated sulphate lake. 75 to 90% of its fauna and flora found here are endemic to the park.

Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park. 

Zombitse Vohibasia is located in the southwest area of Madagascar.  While it is well known for its rare birds, Zombitse is also home to 8 species of lemurs, including ring-tails. 

The park covers 36,308 hectares organized into 3 parcels that include the forest of Zombitse as well as Vohibasia and Isoky special areas.

The Lemur Conservation Foundation

The Lemur Conservation Foundation, a 200 acre private reserve located in Myakka City, Florida, holds six species of lemurs, including ring-tails. Our free ranging colony lives in native forests in multi species groups much like they do in Madagascar.  We are dedicated to the conservation and preservation of lemurs through captive breeding, education, art, observation based research, and partnerships.  LCF is a managing member of The Madagascar Fauna Group and two species survival plans, including the SSP for lemur catta.

Mar
7

Rainforest Mint Cupcakes

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Spring, is that you?    to fight away that cabin fever!

Historically, cabin fever is at it’s peak by the end of February.  We have all said enough.  Enough of the snow, enough of the bitter cold, enough of the salt covered cars and boots.  Then, March comes along and with it brings hints at the hope of warmer temperatures, sunny skies and green shoots of tulips and daffodils.  Not this year.  Nope.  Winter storm Titan has made his path across much of the United States leaving more cold and more snow behind.  So in order to help ease the fever around the Endangered Species office, I whipped up these chocolatey, minty fresh cupcakes with our very own Rainforest mint chocolate bars.  They are incredibly easy to make (thanks to my list of ingredients to cheat with) and will have you clicking your heels together while looking for that pot of gold.  Here’s the run down:

You will need:

 Cake1

1 package gluten free cake mix (I like Bob’s red mill chocolate)

2-3 cups Silk original soy milk (or vegan substitute for dairy milk of your choice)

1 ½ cups vegan butter

¼ cup hot water

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 Endangered Species Chocolate  Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint bars (6 oz)

2 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp Flax Meal (I like Bob’s Red Mill) + 6 tbls hot water, mix and set aside

3 cups(+) powdered sugar

First, pre-heat your oven to 350 F (375 F for gas ovens).  Line muffin tin with baking cups and set aside.

Next, prep your flax meal.  This is to replace the 2 eggs that are traditionally found in a cake recipe such as this.  If you would like, you can use eggs instead, but the recipe will no longer be vegan.

Cake2

Cream ½ cup of your vegan butter in a large mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add in the cake mix, lemon juice, 1 cup of soy milk (or substitute of choice), vanilla and flax meal mixture.  Mix until combined.  The batter should look very sticky.  Heat ¼ cup of water for 30-45 seconds in the microwave, and mix it in on high to create and more smooth appearance (this won’t take long!)

 Now it’s time to take an OK chocolate cupcake to it’s more daring, fresh, indulgent version…….

Cake3

Break up one, 3 oz bar of Endangered Species dark chocolate with mint.  And don’t worry about that square you ate right out of the bowl before popping it in the microwave – I’ve adjusted the recipe to take sudden urges for chocolate into account J

Microwave the chocolate, stirring every 30-45 seconds until smooth.  Then, pour the melted chocolate into the mixer bowl containing the batter.  With your spatula, fold the chocolate in.  Take care not to over stir as this can result in “flat” cupcakes.

Fill the cups 2/3 full.  Place in the pre-heated oven for around 18 minutes to bake until a tester comes out clean.

While the cupcakes do their magic, we can get started on our frosting.

Start by creaming 1 cup of vegan butter in a mixer fitted with a paddle.  Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla.  Mix on medium high until smooth. 

Next, chop the other 3 oz rainforest mint chocolate bar into very fine pieces.

Cake4

Dump the pile straight into the mixer, leaving some of the “dust and bits” on the cutting board for later.

Now we will work on getting a pipe-able consistency of our frosting.  Start with about ½ cup of soy milk and another ½ cup of powdered sugar.  Mix well and see if stiff peaks begin to form.  Continue alternating with soy milk and powdered sugar until a stiff but spreadable frosting is formed.  It’s all about your own preference for feel and taste – so go with what feels right!

Cake5

With your frosting ready and cupcakes cooled, you are ready to assemble.  Place the frosting in a piping bag or just a big zip-loc.  Cut the tip wide so that the chunks of chocolate will go through.  Swirl the frosting however you like on each pillow of cake.  Or skip the prettiness and smear the frosting on with a butter knife.   These babies won’t last long enough for it to matter how they look!

Remember that dusting of chocolate on your cutting board?  Yeah.  That’s going ON TOP of the frosting.  Pour, I mean, sprinkle your chocolate dusting on each cupcake for a 3rd layer of goodness. 

Now, we indulge.

Cake6

Just sit back, take a bite and enjoy the euphoric trip into spring the bright taste of mint and chocolate will take you on.  Heel clicking and rainbow hunts optional.

Enjoy this fresh indulgence!

- Whitney B

A food scientist with a focus on healthy living, Whitney Bembenick is Research & Development Manager at Endangered Species Chocolate. A Purdue University graduate, Whitney has over five years of food industry experience and extensive chocolate training. However, it’s not just chocolate that she’s passionate about; a self-proclaimed foodie she likes to explore new recipes while cooking and baking at home.  She also enjoys experiencing all of the wonderful food the local chefs are putting on their menus whether it be in Indianapolis or wherever her travels take her.

 

Feb
11

CA, Tax Time, Sea Otters

By Guest Blogger  //  Species in Need.  //  No Comments