It was an extra special moment when the President of Madagascar, Mr. Hery Rajaonarimampianina celebrated World Environment Day on June 5th 2016 in Manakara, according to Susie McGuire, director of Conservation Fusion, an SOS grant project partner to the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership, managed by grantee Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquariusm (OHDZA).
Thanks to his presence, the message about lemur conservation made it onto national television, she elaborates.
Dressed as mascots representing local animal species, children from Kianjavato stood infront of an audience including the Minister of the Environment, Minister of Health, all mayors from the Vatovavy Fitovanany region and the country’s President. Undaunted they each in turn pronounced their unique qualities and roles in Madagascar's nature - a heritage to be cherished by the world they affirmed.
The teachers and children from Kianjavato district had prepared their presentations together independently of the project team explains Susie. the children shared stories about their communities’ involvement with the reforestation efforts, the eco-tourism potential with lemur populations on the rise and the positive impacts of the continued environmental education programmes that enabled more efficient cooking methods, school gardens providing lunches and materials for the classrooms, as well as alternative practices to traditional slash and burn agriculture and innovative composting methods.
These children gave voice to the animals representing Madagascar's endemic biodiversity to ask the Malagasy people and the President to help them protect the animals, the forest, and the environment for the future, explains Susie. While thousands attended the event in Manakara, the message reached national audiences thanks to television and radio broadcasts supported by features in local newspapers as well.
Conservation Fusion had sponsored a group of fifteen community members to travel to the event. This included eight local teachers from Kianjavato, all proudly wearing their SOS t-shirts along with seven school mascots depicting the unique biodiversity from the Kianjavato region. Meanwhile, Susie’s colleague on the project team, Fredo Tera represented Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership - the other key partner helping implement this and one other lemur conservation grant awarded by SOS in 2015.
According to Susie, the project’s primary objectives are conservation, education and collaboration, with the ultimate goal of empowering local people to become advocates of conservation for the future. This pride and transfer of knowledge exhibited by the children and teachers from Kianjavato is exactly the success we are aiming for, she exclaims. Making it onto national television was a bonus and a boon for the lemur conservation message.
This is just one of 109 conservation projects supported by IUCN’s SOS initiative so far. With your valuable support we can continue to find and fund the best frontline conservation tackling issues like habitat degradation, invasive species, wildlife crime, species recovery and alternative livelihoods. Please donate now and help SOS save more species.