Illegal Logging, Looting and Civil Strife Close Madagascar National Park, Rare Lemurs at Risk

silky sifaka photo

photo: Wikipedia

If you follow international news even slightly, you're probably aware that Madagascar is going through a bit of a rough patch, politically speaking. But what has been absent from the headlines so far is the effect that the civil strife is having on the country's flora and faura:Profiteers Swoop in to Plunder Forests
National Geographic is reporting that Marojejy National Park is not only closed to tourists, but that according to the park's website "gangs of armed men (led primarily by foreign profiteers in conjunction with the rich local mafia) are plundering the rainforests of Marojejy for the extremely valuable rosewood that grows there."

The article goes on to quote a PhD researcher working in the area, these "foreign profiteers and rich local mafia" are believed to have ties with elements in China.

marojejy national park map photo

map: Marojejy National Park
Endangered Silky Sifaka Further Threatened
The park's website goes on to lay out the implications of this illegal logging:
The crisis in Marojejy has serious implications on several fronts.  First, of course, is the extremely detrimental impact it is having on the park's unique flora and fauna.  While old-growth rosewood trees may be the primary objective of the armed gangs, such destructive, unregulated use of the forest will certainly have an adverse effect on everything else in the park.  Most worrisome is the well-being of the highly endangered Silky Sifaka, a lemur found only in the rainforests of Marojejy and the surrounding area.

But the crisis is also having a devastating effect outside the boundaries of the park itself.  With armed militia descending on local villages and death threats being issued, people live in fear; communities are divided, and families are pitted one against the other. Many local people who depend on tourism – guides, porters, shopkeepers, hotel and restaurant personnel – now live in limbo.  With no other means of support, some turn to the lucrative rosewood trade.

For more on the rise of illegal logging and the green angle on the situation in Madagascar: Lemurs, Rare Forests Threatened by Madagascar Strife
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