A big thank you to Lake District Wildlife Park who've been working extra hard this half term to raise money for our conservation projects! Check out their page to see what they've been up to – they've been running talks, making arts and crafts and even serving up romazava, Madagascar's national dish. Great work everyone!
The return of Stitch Sainte Luce's Project Co-ordinator this January has been the cause of much excitement for project staff and the Stitch embroiderers in the studio! Sarah Brown, who founded Stitch back in 2012, has returned to Madagascar to evaluate the progress of the project over the last two years and work with the embroiderers to develop and strengthen their cooperative going forward.
Now halfway through her three month visit, Sarah reports:
“It’s great to be back in the studio and see all the positive changes that have taken place. More and more embroiderers are now selling their work through the studio, and sales continue to increase, so the benefits of Stitch are spreading throughout the community. The embroiderers make a great team, and it is wonderful to see the strength of the association growing as the women run their business with increasing independence"
Here you can see the close team happily reunited, as Sarah catches up with Paula, Stitch Project Assistant, and Esterline, President of the Stitch Co-operative!
It's a chameleon explosion in Sainte Luce! Furcifer verrucosus females, also known as warty chameleons, are currently digging out burial holes for their eggs across the forest, including in the sandy paths meandering around our camp. Females can lay up to 45 eggs in one clutch, leading to an eruption of mini chameleons 9 months later. The babies take between 6 and 12 months to mature, and can usually be found wandering around our tents and dining area.
Come and join us in Madagascar and help conserve these vibrant endemic species by volunteering with our Conservation Programme! http://madagascar.co.uk/conservation
This week our resident beekeeping experts have been keeping busy by creating a series of visual learning aids (VLAs) to help the beneficiaries of Project Renitantely understand the lifecycle of the honeybee. Through these hand-drawn VLAs fit for a queen, the beekeepers can trace the journey of a bee's life from egg to fully grown.
With this knowledge the beekeepers will be able to better look after their hives, ensuring healthy happy colonies that produce lots of delicious honey!
On Tuesday our Project Safidy team made their first visit to Amboasary, a few hours drive over the picturesque mountains west of Fort Dauphin. There, they met with the head of CISCO, responsible for coordinating schools in the district, who agreed to collaborate with us on the pilot phase of the project. The team then visited Amboasary's middle and high schools where they'll be running educational sessions and setting up anti-AIDS clubs. Thanks to CISCO for their great communication - these photos were in our inbox before we'd even finished the drive home!
A new report says at least 350,000 trees were cut down in protected areas in Madagascar between 2010 and 2015, reflecting minimal government controls over the country's rosewood and ebony timber.
After 110 years a rare species of dragonfly has been rediscovered by the SEED Conservation Programme team!
When the team sent identification photographs of the dragonflies caught on surveys to an Odonata (dragonfly and damselfly) specialist, we were surprised to find out that there was one very special dragonfly on our photo list - the Libellulosoma minuta. The specialist informed us that this species of dragonfly has just one known museum specimen, with simply the location of ‘Eastern Madagascar’ on the label. The species is listed as 'Data Deficient' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), making it a very exciting find!
Libellulosoma minuta has proven to be very evasive to the team as the photographed specimen was first caught a year ago, however this past December we managed to catch and send two additional male specimens to the UK. While the female of this species has yet to be seen, it is exciting to witness the rediscovery of a species previously thought to be lost!
The SCP team is now on a mission to catch the elusive female of this species! Do you know your way around a bug net? Join the Conservation Programme team in their hunt for all sorts of creatures for 2 to 10 weeks in Madagascar. Your time in the forests of Sainte Luce could even help uncover a lost or unidentified species! Find out more and apply today on our website: http://madagascar.co.uk/conservation
This photo is simply too lovely not to share, we join USAID in wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day from Madagascar!
Last Friday the Project Malio had a meeting to discuss the always exciting topic of faecal sludge management (FSM), the term used by the pros to describe the collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of urine and excreta.
More than a billion people worldwide are served by on-site FSM technologies, like Project Malio's latrines. Poor sanitation is linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid. Malio's Project Coordinator and International Specialist, our in-house "poo professionals", are leaving this week to attend the 4th Faecal Sludge Management Conference in Chennai, India to learn more about FSM planning and technologies. We wish them "soava dia" (happy travels), and look forward to hearing more about it upon their return!
"In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity." – José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International
The Corruption Perceptions Index for 2016 has been released, with Madagascar falling 22 places since last year to be ranked 30th worst in the world. Widespread corruption makes everything we do here a challenge and leads to widening inequality, unequal distribution of power and unequal distribution of wealth.
That's why we're working to build relationships with key government bodies to ensure that they connect more with communities, as well as pushing for transparency in all of our work, and all of theirs.
Check out the full report here: http://cpi.transparency.org/
Some fantastic news this week from the north of Madagascar!
Have you ever wondered how island nations, like Britain or Madagascar, are able to connect to the rest of the world through the internet? The answer may surprise you in the era of all-things-wireless, but we mostly stay connected through long undersea cables spanning ocean floors.
While some island nations such as Britain are serviced by dozens of cables, Madagascar is served by only two, and one became damaged two weeks ago. Someone's gone and unplugged the island!
So our apologies if we've been a little quieter than normal lately, but communications can be one of the challenges of working in a remote region, and it comes with the territory. Whilst we've thankfully been able to get by, even further reduced access to the outside world can be major challenge for the communities we work with. Rights to open internet access and the plethora of information it provides will prove to be one of the key development challenges of the 21st century.
Check out this article to learn more about the cable repairs!
Last week our conservation team discovered how much the Sainte Luce community is invested in species protection when they came across a protected sea turtle nest on Manafiafy beach. They were lucky enough to watch as the first of the loggerhead turtles began to make their way to the ocean and were thrilled to see the local community giving them a helping hand!
For the past month, our new Project Safidy team have been receiving workshops and training in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. They’ve been planning activities and assigning jobs to develop educational sessions and resources to run in schools at the CEG and Lycée (middle and secondary) levels. The plan is to set up Anti-SIDA (Anti-AIDS) clubs across the Anosy and Androy regions: they’ll be launching in Anosy in a couple of weeks in collaboration and with the support of the regional director of the national ministry of education!
We're hiring! Are you passionate about research, conservation and alleviating poverty in one of the poorest regions of Madagascar? You could be our next Head of Project Development - check out our website and apply today!
What's it like teaching on our English programme? Our volunteer David has all the answers!
"Suddenly, on a roasting Tuesday afternoon, confronted with a sea of teenage faces! Hoping that the lesson I've prepared is going to work. After an hour, relief that they have apparently learned something, and enjoy English!
Teaching English in a middle school with only a blackboard and chalk and some flashcards is challenging but hugely rewarding. I supplement the regular Malagasy teacher by backing up her grammar and vocabulary lessons with speaking skills. The students seemed to find the interactive teaching style strange at first, but now are much more responsive. I also do a session with the teacher afterwards, to help bring on her own speaking skills."
Join us from 2 weeks to a year! http://madagascar.co.uk/english
What do you get when you combine poo, bees and buckets? A confused group of American students training bees to sustainably sell buckets of faecal sludge? We doubt it...
Yesterday Harry, Harry, Jack and Kathy presented their respective projects to the new SIT Study Abroad intake here in Fort Dauphin. The SEED speakers discussed a variety of topics, including the challenges of building routes to market for beekeepers in the midst of a varroa mite epidemic. The end is nigh for Project Malio, now in its third year, as nearly 800 latrines have been completed - but the ongoing challenge with sustainable waste management remains. Meanwhile, our rainwater harvesting project, Tatirano, begins the first year of its second phase where it will be... collecting more rain!
Exciting sweet, smelly and rainy times ahead!
Our education department have been developing an English-language tour of the Fort Flacourt Museum in Fort Dauphin along with its tour guide, Rosia. Based on the town's military base, the museum boasts some spectacular views of the old port and bay. The new tour covers both the outside and inside of the museum, with centuries-old artefacts, musical instruments, a reconstruction of a traditional Antanosy house and a 3 metre tall wooden model of Madagascar's extinct elephant bird. We would thoroughly recommend a visit!
Fantastic news from Mahatalaky EPP, as repairs to the primary school are now complete! December saw the repaired roof put back on the building and secured with cement, just in time for the new term to begin. With completely refurbished classrooms, thanks to the hard work of our construction and Pioneer volunteer teams, the school building now offers a safe learning environment for up to 160 students. Mr Thierry, headmaster of the school, has expressed how thrilled he is to finally see the students able to safely use the building again!
The flying fox bat colony in Sainte Luce has recently given birth to pups! Flying foxes give birth once a year to a single pup between November and December – having more than one pup is very rare. The pups attach to the underarm nipple of the mother and are carried by her each night for 4-5 weeks whilst she forages, until they get too big. After about two months the pups will try out their wings for the first time and feed independently after about three.
Compared to other animals of the same size, flying foxes have a very low birth rate. Species that reproduce at a slower rate are more threatened by habitat loss, and so extinction is a big threat for them. This is a major factor that we need to consider in our conservation plan for them!