Conservation, a difficult task... | WWF
Conservation, a difficult task...

Posted on 26 November 2008

It’s probably really hard to list all the things I learned in the two months I stayed in Madagascar, but that’s basically nothing compared to all the amazing memories I gained. Everything came up together to become one of the hardest and most rewarding, unique experiences in my life. There are innumerable things and countless of situations which I never in a million years thought I would ever do; and to be honest, I still don’t know how I did it.
It’s probably really hard to list all the things I learned in the two months I stayed in Madagascar, but that’s basically nothing compared to all the amazing memories I gained. Everything came up together to become one of the hardest and most rewarding, unique experiences in my life. There are innumerable things and countless of situations which I never in a million years thought I would ever do; and to be honest, I still don’t know how I did it.

One of the most shocking aspects we got to face every day was the constant comparison of our countries and Madagascar. What do you say to people? When they ask, “What’s the difference from where you live and here?” I honestly couldn’t answer that question back then. There are some misconceptions and ideologies that compare our different ways of life so drastically. At first it is almost inconceivable to understand how Malagasy people live without electricity, toilets or water. But I learned that they don’t miss these things, because they never got used to live with them. It’s as simple as that… We never think that the options we have in our everyday life, actually make it more complicated. Since we were born with options and choices, we learned the concept of variety and made it an essential part of our every-day life. So, taking away our options, basically could feel like some sort of deprivation. But just think, what if… since you were born, there were no choices, no variety. Well... that’s actually what I’ve learned from the traditional customs of Malagasy people. Even with as little as they have, they are much richer that millions of people who we think have more. I did not only learn from them, but I learned how to admire and respect their culture and their being. There are millions of things we take for granted, and a lot of things we don’t value enough, and that’s the biggest reward I take from this journey, humbleness and respect.

You know, it's been said that we just don't recognize the significant moments of our lives while they are happening. We grow complacent with ideas, or things or people and we take them for granted. Even though it was shocking to experience living in a totally different culture I learned that no matter how little or how much I have, I can only empathize for the lack or the abundance of others. What’s really important is how much you respect and value your life and how you live it. Because let’s face it, we should be grateful that we can complain or even that we have something to complain about.

Trying to understand how conservation worked in a developing country, I realized how difficult of a task it can be. I learned the importance of education but most of all, what our planet needs is communication and awareness. People all over the world need to be informed, that’s just the first step, knowing… knowing what our planet has or should I say, what’s left of it. Getting people to realize that each and every one of our actions has a direct consequence on our planet, and the sake of it depends on all of us.

Have you ever wondered if one life can really make an impact on the world? Or if the choices we make matter? I believe they do, it only takes one person to do something good and make a difference, it only takes one thought to make you believe that we can be the change our planet needs. Unfortunately things were not as easy as I imagined they would be; I did not only had a language barrier, I had a complete cultural wall between me and the rest of Madagascar. I think this was my greatest challenge, actually getting through to people there. Making them understand that they need to take care of the magnificent country they live in, and not just when a volunteer like us came to town, but every single day of their lives.

Madagascar is a truly unique place on earth, 90% percent of all flora and fauna is endemic to the region. This is the beauty of this country, what they have, most of their animals and plants only exist in this island. The rarity of their species is something of great value not only to Malagasy people but to the entire world, because it’s actually in islands where the biggest discoveries and theories made on evolution were developed by scientists hundreds of years ago. Throughout time, the studies of island biogeography have been a key element in the development of the theory on the evolution of species and their environments. Scientist saw before their eyes in plants and animals, how evolution accelerated or slowed down in islands do to the isolation of these massive pieces of land. To often this rarity is manifested in either gigantisms or dwarfism in plants and animals, giving the world truly unique species which should be treasured and specially protected from becoming endangered or even extinct. This is why conservation matters; this is why we should fight to protect these species habitats, to make sure that they have a home and a future for them, and that in 50 years, zoos don’t become the only place we could see them. They deserve to live freely in their natural environments. And we all should feel responsible to leave our future generations a living planet.
That’s how it should be, living in harmony
© WWF / Alicia Fernández Rubio