After the last week with the patrol in Tsimanampesotse NP left me contemplative on the challenges of aligning nature conservation and people's livelihoods, it is uplifting to find that there are good news as well:
Back at the office, I am continuing the hours and hours of analysing aerial photographs. As I finally finish looking through the pictures taken in 2011 and 2012 in the Onilahy protected area, the comparison between both years shows a decrease of the clearings that exceeds 50%!
While nobody can say for sure whether this effect is entirely due to the aerial surveillance (but actually the answer to this question doesn't really matter either, as long as the situation is improving), and the question remains what the local people are eating instead, figures like this still are a reason for hope.
For us working in conservation, where you quickly get used to being on the losing side, these rays of sunlight between the clouds are what keeps us from becoming depressed, cynical or indifferent. At least that is the attitude that I have decided to adopt for myself, and I hope I will be able to maintain it for many years to come still.