Unfortunately, it is also one of the world’s least developed countries, and its rich natural resources are under severe pressure. The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT) began working in Madagascar in 1983. It aims to empower rural communities to lead in the protection of their local environments by reinforcing traditional culture, rules and customs. Projects focus on the most imminently threatened species and on key habitats – especially dry forest and wetlands.
DWCT works with local people at several sites around the island, often promoting community management arrangements for sensitive areas. In 2014, Durrell’s Ecological Monitoring Coordinator, Herizo Andrianandrasana, won the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa for the remarkable role he plays in integrating local people in conservation management and monitoring.
Tusk has funded DWCT’s work in Madagascar since 2006 with a focus on Lake Alaotra, a RAMSAR designated wetland and the largest freshwater lake in Madagascar. In 2015, five sites that DWCT had been working in for several years were declared national parks. Since then much of our support has been directed towards the engagement of local people around these protected areas (including those surrounding Aloatra), in particular the creation and maintenance of community-based monitoring schemes.
The rich and unique natural heritage of Madagascar is being gradually lost. It can only be saved with the cooperation and involvement of the local people. These initiatives need continued support to secure a future for the country’s precious ecosystems and wildlife.