"I could sense the pride of the villagers and had a real sense of what a community is all about"
What a privilege it is to be able to be part of this exchange visit in Moramanga Madagascar! The site of focus is the beautiful and amazing Mangabe Protected Area. Sometimes people may wonder what makes an area worthy of being protected, some may know immediately and some others may seek further information… I’m a bit of both, being a conservationist, I trust my other colleagues from Madagasikara Voakajy when they choose areas that need protection but they went even further to bring us to the reality, hence this exchange visit.
Today we had a very intense day of visiting Mangabe Protected Area. First there was the drive to the site, let’s just say that I have a much greater appreciation for Land Rovers now! Secondly came the crossing of a river in a very long pirogue, which was fun…well a little bit nerve wracking as well as there are crocodiles in the river! After the crossing we started the walk to the patrollers’ camp site, where we met up with the patrol team that we would be joining for the next few hours. It all started well, until I saw the patrollers cross over directly into the forest, and that is where the real hiking began. We went up and down small trails, hanging onto small trees and branches for balance, it was seriously hard…for me anyway as I’m used to walking in flat areas and simply along long beaches patrolling for sea turtle nesting activities in the Seychelles. Nonetheless, it was all worth it as we even had the chance to observe some Indri Indri Lemurs and the landscape throughout was purely amazing… definitely worth protecting.
As we arrived into the Mangabe village after a short stop for a quick bite, I could sense the pride of the villagers and had a real sense of what a community is all about. From the sight of the patrollers from the village proudly wearing their patrol uniform, the young girls working together with an elderly woman to clean rice, a young group who works hard towards planting and showing other misbelievers how an area can be cleared for planting without setting up the area in flames, but most of all I could observe the great sense of pride and encouragement from the Madagasikara Voakajy team as they clearly explained the different practices and how the community comes into play. They are well on their way with their vision for the Mangabe Protected Area, where they are focused on bringing durability of resources from the area for the benefit of the community, at the same time keeping a good balance of Biodiversity.
I may not be able to walk tomorrow after today’s activities….but I look forward for another day of great learning and sharing of experiences from the team and my other colleagues from Mauritius, Comoros and Madagascar.
Written by: Vanessa Samantha Yvette DIDON