To put it in numbers, 98% of land mammals, 92% of the reptiles, over 9000 endemic plant species -that is 68% of them -, all of the lemurs – that is 50 species -, 2/3 of the chameleons … the list is long, and nobody has really focused on the small things like fungi and insects!
I’ll leave out the boring bit, “I’ve always been concerned with the environment/state of the planet…since I can remember, I always….” But I will tell you that I love travelling; it is a virus I caught and I don’t think there is a cure…but I also need to be kept active and do things: sitting on the beach is fine, but after a few minutes I’ll be bored! Nothing better than join a volunteer program that enables you to “travel” and do something useful! And the best deal is the YVP (if you’ve got this far, no need to explain those 3 letters)! 6 people, 3 projects, one country…welcome to Madagascar!
We met up in Tana, which I must admit was not the nicest place I have been to…but it is a big city and like all others it is noisy and polluted (ok maybe a bit more than what we are used to…). After a few days of introduction to WWF-Mada, the Explore program, it is time to make a move down south…Antsirabe, Fianaratsoa, Ambalavao, … Toliara. A couple of days here to do some shopping and meet the local WWF staff, then through a mix of 4x4 and boat we get to the final destination: Itampolo…to be more precise the Orange House!
Living in a remote area you learn a lot…how to live with just about nothing (when compared to Western “standards”) and how that part of the world is treated by the local populations i.e. how the local people live and take care of their direct environment: the sea, the beach, the forest…. How do you combine conservation and living conditions? After all it is easy for us – vazaha – to comment on how they run their lives and how they should not do this or that… but what are they supposed to do? That is the subject that we tried to touch… it was difficult and eye opening.