Madagascar, Land of Lemurs, Lambas and Birds
- Madagascar, Land of Lemurs, Lambas and Birds, October, 2004
- Birds and Bird Guides
- The People
- Rice, Bricks and Houses
- My Travelling Group and the Food We Ate
- Atanifuti Market and the Hunt for My Lamba
- Souvenirs and Ethical Dilemmas
- Critters and Other Annoyances
- Leaping Lemurs
- The View From Home
Back home in Oregon, I caught up with hometown news and I despaired as I read about the road building initiatives to log our remaining trackless forests of the last old growth trees. Ghosts of the barren and bleeding hills I just witnessed haunt me. For us, it is not too late, but we cannot deny the situation any longer.
Whether the degradation of Madagascar is reversible or not is unknown. Destructive traditions and attitudes are changing. The threatened animals and plants are not yet extinct. International environmental agencies, which initially tried to save the endangered ecosystems by excluding the Malagasies, now include them in environmental decisions while strengthening the economy as they are able.
But the value to the country and the world of the disappearing flora and fauna in Madagascar and other ecological hot spots is not being acknowledged by those who prefer short term financial gain to long term global investments. The Madagascar government appears to be trying to improve the people’s conditions, but it is the world’s fourth poorest country, and until the crushing national debt is forgiven, Madagascar will bear a heavy financial burden that threatens its natural ecosystems.
I left home with mixed motives. I returned with mixed feelings. Did I witness the last of species that will soon be extinct, or was I there at the point of reversal? The work is clear. I wish I could be more optimistic about the current preservation and recovery efforts. It may be too late.
I hope I am wrong.