For those who didn’t know,Madagascar is an island country, found off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Madagascar is actually the fourth largest island in the world, whilst Great Britain rests in eighth place.
Home to 22 million people, Madagascar is classed as one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries that are considered to be home to the majority of the world's biodiversity. Over 70% of the wildlife species found in Madagascar are found nowhere else in the world, as well as 90% of the plants native to Madagascar. In fact, lemurs are only found in the wild in Madagascar! As of 2012, there were 103 living species of wild lemur. The unique ecology of Madagascar has led some scientists to refer to the country as the "eighth continent" of the world.
Madagascar is one of the world’s main suppliers of vanilla and cloves, while coffee, lychees and shrimp are also important agriculturally. The country currently provides half of the world's supply of sapphires and produces a number of other precious and semi-precious stones. Unfortunately, Madagascar is also a relatively poor country with approximately 70 percent of the population living below the national poverty line threshold of $1 per day. The region in which I will be staying, Atsimo-Andrefana, is one of the poorest areas. The people in this territory face many problems including poor health care, poor educational system, economic problems and malnutrition. Many travel to the coast to make a living from fishing in the Toliara reef, the third largest in the world, but this often leads to overfishing and damage to the reef, not only by fishermen, but also by tourists attracted to the area.
The Wildlife Conservation Society said in regards to the Toliara barrier reef:"global demand for shark fins and sea cucumbers has created a major export market for these species in Madagascar. Poor law enforcement and ineffective resource management have contributed to overexploitation of these and other marine species. The barrier reef is also significantly affected by climate change; past bleaching events have had devastating impacts on the reef system.”
Next Week: What is Reef Doctor, and how are they helping?