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An effort is under way to keep Ponso alive and well in a west African country where the ape population has plummeted by 90 percent in just two decades.Two years ago, Ponso suffered a traumatic loss when his female companion and two children all died of unknown causes, says Koidja, a retired farmer in his 60s.Every morning, barefoot, Koidja pushes through the water lilies on a makeshift boat to carry food and medication to the island, which lies just a few meters offshore.He is welcomed with cries and acrobatics by Ponso, an ape about a meters tall leaping from one branch to the next.The chimpanzee's isolation has also moved Francoise Stephenson, the Franco-American owner of a hotel in Lahou who has become the leader of a rescue committee.In the large island nation of Madagascar alone, off the southeast African mainland coast, about 85 percent of the famous wide-eyed lemur population is threatened.Specialists are wary, however, about finding companionship for Ponso, since nobody has clearly explained the deaths and disappearances on his island in the last 20 years.
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