Tuesday, April 9, 2013

25th day, Itampolo - We call it work...

Lying on my back in the sand in front of my little bungalow, gazing at millions of stars and listening to the sound of the waves.
Oh, right...I am here for work. That's easy to forget in this picture perfect vacation setting. But tomorrow morning at 5, we will leave for a patrol in Tsimanampesotse National Park. Visiting temporary settlements in the forest, we will talk to the people who have conducted "hatsake", slash-and-burn agriculture. Then, we will lead them to the parcels they have burned, and which we have located on the aerial photos.
We - that is, representatives of WWF, Madagascar National Parks and the local village authorities. Generally, there are no further consequences that the authors of "hatsake" have to suffer afterwards - law enforcement is weak in this country with a virtually non-existing government. But apparently, the knowledge of being observed is enough to make the number and area of new clearings go down from year to year. Fortunately. It doesn't take more than one look at the villagers in their torn clothes, in front of their wobbly shacks, to understand that the sight of a GPS device and the thought of an airplane surveilling their activities must seem like pure whichcraft to them, giving them a sufficient scare to prevent them from further burning forest.

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