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These ringtailed lemurs are found in the wild only in Madagascar. (Jurgen & Christine Sohns / FLPA / Minden Pictures)

A Place for Primates

This scientist helped make a park for Madagascar’s lemurs

<p>Three maps pointing out the location of Madagascar, the location of Ranomafana National Park, and the park’s perimeter (Jim McMahon)</p>

Three maps pointing out the location of Madagascar, the location of Ranomafana National Park, and the park’s perimeter (Jim McMahon)

Patricia Wright first traveled from New York to the country of Madagascar, an island nation off the east coast of Africa, 25 years ago. The scientist was looking for the greater bamboo lemur. People thought this small primate had died out in the wild. (Primates are a group of animals that includes lemurs, monkeys, and apes.) But deep in the rainforest, Wright found a noisy group of the animals chewing on bamboo.

Wright knew the lemurs weren’t safe. That’s because people were cutting down the forest for its wood. She asked the government to create a park so the lemurs would always have a home.

The government agreed to set up a park—but Wright had to figure out its boundaries. She and her team spent weeks hiking through the muddy jungle and chatting with local villagers. After years of planning, Ranomafana (RAHN-noomah- FAH-nah) National Park was established in 1991.

“It’s all beautiful rainforest,” says Wright. Today at least 14 types of lemurs live inside the park, along with millions of other plants and animals.

And the park’s perimeter may soon change: Wright wants to make Ranomafana bigger to protect even more of Madagascar’s wild forests.


Wright spent months hiking through the jungle to define the perimeter of Ranomafana National Park (see map). Perimeter is the distance around the edge of a closed shape. To find the perimeter of an object, add the lengths of all its sides.

Example: What is the perimeter of the shape below?

triangle perimeter

2 + 4 + 5 = 11

The perimeter is 11 feet.

Answer the questions on this skills sheet to learn more about perimeter.

This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Dynamath. For more from Dynamath, click here.

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