The Orianne Society Welcomes Two Research Associates From Madagascar

The Orianne Society is pleased to welcome its newest Research Associates.  Riana Rakotondrainy and William Ronto will be working in Madagascar under the direction of Christina Castellano, Ph.D., Director of Turtle Conservation for The Orianne Society.  They will be studying the ecology of Radiated and Spider Tortoises at the Cap Sainte Marie Special Reserve, which is undoubtedly the most important location for the conservation of these species in Madagascar.

Riana Rakotondrainy received a M.Sc. from the Department of Animal Biology at the University of Antananarivo, Madascar.  Her research examined the population structure and impact of illegal collection on the Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) in southwest Madagascar. Rakotondrainy has also completed a fellowship on the Ghana Hippopotamus Project on the Black Volta River and internships on the Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) at the Wetland’s Institute in New Jersey, turtle specimen preparation at the Chelonian Research Institute in Florida, Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) monitoring on St. Catherine’s Island, Georgia, and the Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in the northeast USA. She is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Antananarivo and is comparing home range, daily movements, and habitat selection between the sympatric and critically endangered Radiated and Spider Tortoises (Pyxis arachnoides oblonga) at the Cap Sainte Marie Special Reserve, Madagascar.  

William Ronto received a M.Sc. from the Department of Animal Biology at the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar. His research focused on the demography of Radiated (Astrochelys radiata) and Spider Tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides arachnoides) populations between the Lac Tsimanampetsotsa National Park and the littoral forest of southwest Madagascar. Most recently, Ronto has worked with The Orianne Society to investigated the impacts of human harvest on tortoise populations and establish a long-term monitoring program for these species. He is about to begin his PhD research on the impacts of the invasive cactus species Raketa mena and habitat loss on the Radiated Tortoise at the Cap Sainte Marie Special Reserve, Madagascar, and surrounding area. 


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