Madagascar: Conservation and Political Crisis

In 2009 Andry Rajoelina, with the support of the military and several small public organisations, seized power through a political coup in Madagascar. The High Transitional Authority, with Rajoelina as its leader, is currently governing Madagascar.  Rajoelina ousted President Ravlomanana and his government in a move seen by many as unconstitutional. This hasn’t won him any favours internationally as many countries have refused to acknowledge the new power ruling Madagascar. The state has been considered in a political crisis, there are still those that support Ravlomanana (currently in exile and living in South Africa) and with the date by which free elections were supposed to have taken place long since passed, the crisis doesn’t look like it’s to end anytime soon. But with all this political upheaval, which is been quite frankly overlooked by international media, it’s easy for other issues to take a backseat, or be forgotten all together.

A recent assessment by a group of specialists in Madagascar has shown that the island’s lemur population, along with all the other extremely biodiverse and unique species that call the island home are at increasing risk. Since the political coup in 2009 illegal logging and poaching of Lemurs has been on a worrying rise. You may think that this is only natural to see a slight rise for a country in political crisis, however what is shocking is that there has been no effort, by the High Tansitional Authority at least, to control the situation. “There’s just no government enforcement capacity, so forests are being invaded for timber, and inevitably that brings hunting as well,” Dr Mittermeier (Chair, IUCN Primates Specialist Group) told the BBC in a recent interview. For me personally I think it’s yet another disappointing example where the personal ambition of a few has stunted the efforts of the conservation movement.

I say this because there has been no beneficial outcome in any aspect to the people of Madagascar, to the political coup. It resulted in its isolation internationally from both the African Union and further afield, aid from the US was halted in its official capacity, during the period 2009-2011 the GDP fell to as far as -7% and the majority of the population still live beneath the poverty line. If there had been any improvement in Madagascar, then perhaps the neglect of the government to its responsibility of the conservation of its unique wildlife would have been partially forgivable. But with all these short falls, it’s hard to see why the coup was needed and easy to see that it was a complete waste of time. Politics should not affect the conservation effort, but unfortunately it does and while there are still those that wish to threaten the biodiversity of the planet there will always be those that turn a blind eye.

Mr Yellow.