Laza Rakotondrasoa: “Here I can share my views on conservation!”

	© WWF-MWIOPO/Martina Lippuner
Laza Rakotondrasoa, Vondrozo, Madagascar
© WWF-MWIOPO/Martina Lippuner
Brief portrait of the Head of project in Vondrozo.
The 25 year-old agronomist Laza Hasinanijaona Rakotondrasoa joined WWF in September 2010, as Head of HCPF in Vondrozo.

Before, he was a consultant for various organizations such as Conservation International, Foreca, Durrell, among others.

Laza grew up in Fianana, in the vicinity of Antananarivo. His parents were both working for a rural development NGO. His father also had a ‘taxibrousse’ to earn some extra money for the family.

From taxi to markets

Laza used to help him, collecting the transport fees in the back of the car. On many occasions, Laza and his father also walked together to far away markets to sell their agricultural products. 

" A few times we arrived at the market in the middle of the night," he remembers. "We had to sleep on the ground of the market place and pigs were walking right by my head!” 

As a child, Laza could not stand people burning or cutting down the forest. “It was as if they were cutting my skin,” he says. “And it has not changed up until now”.

Fire and scare

Fires in Fianana - a place well known for slash and burn practices - have threatened Laza and his family more than once. On one occasion, the family house was almost destroyed by a huge fire that could be extinguished at the last minute.

"After such a shock, I worked harder than ever to become a good conservationist," he adds.

He considers his move to WWF as a unique chance. « WWF is a renowned institution, a non governmental organization with world-wide experience, only this is already a source of motivation, » he reckons. 

"In addition, I’m lucky enough to work for a programme which gives me the opportunity to share my views and suggestions on conservation, and is led by someone who really cares about the quality and well being of his teams."

Icarus dream

Before moving to agronomy and conservation, flying was his dream and he wanted to be a pilot. But now Laza's best moments are when he is close to wildlife.

“When I was studying agronomy, I realized that when I was in the field, I just felt better, at ease and relax,” he says.

“Love of nature and wildlife are actually required to do the job I chose to do,” he adds.

Laza is based in Farafangana, because he needs electricity to work on his computer. But he will be in Vondrozo very often to participate in the activities his team of five puts in place.

Playing with his knife

“I clearly remember my first working experience in this region” concludes Laza. “I was doing a survey and had to talk to a famous Dahalo (zebu thief). He was sharpening his knife all the time when we were talking, which was scarying. I had to ask delicate questions about logging and lemur meat consumption. Luckily, he ended up being a nice guy!” 

Laza is convinced that the HCPF will have a bright future: “Among all the projects coordinated by WWF, this is one of the most fascinating,” he concludes.    

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