The Dying Breath of Madagascar's Lisa

The Dying Breath of Madagascar's Lisa

The Dying Breath of Madagascar's Lisa

By / Forests / Thursday, 26 July 2018 02:12

Lisa glanced at him and winked. A blast of wind ruffled her raised eyebrows.

He glanced beyond her shoulder at the Borneo Teak tree and smiled. Although it could grow to heights of fifty metres, the one he was gazing at was about half that size. He had no idea that this tree produced valuable hardwood that was coveted across the globe. Consequently, it was listed as vulnerable on IUCN’s red list. People around the world especially in China, Europe and USA wanted this hardwood so much for their floors and furniture that they had shoved the tree that bore it right into vulnerability status.

But to him, it was just another tree in the forest. All he knew was that one of the top-most branches of that particular tree was his favorite resting place in the mornings. From that branch’s vantage point, he could clearly see some of the 125 bird species that flew and nestled in this vast forest. One of these bird species that his eyes often feasted on was the Madagascar magpie-robin, a small black and white bird that seemed to be everywhere.

Lisa saw him looking past her to the Borneo Teak tree. She followed his eyes as they rested on the Madagascar magpie-robin that was perched on one of the elegant tree’s higher branches. She shook her head and ran towards him in a face that was rapidly rolling into an epic sulk. Men! If only their legs and hands were more active than their eyes, her life would be much better!

A sly smile spread across his hairy face when he saw her strutting towards him.

This couple was right in the middle of Madagascar’s Makira Forests that are part of Makira Natural Park which covers an area of 372,470 hectares of low and mid-altitude rainforest. The Park’s mammoth size makes it almost seven times bigger than Seychelles.

Just like the Madagascar magpie-robin, this couple was also dressed in black and white. The couple was part of the endangered black-and-white ruffed lemur, a primate whose specie may be on its final breath.

IUCN’s red list has listed it as critically endangered and gravely explained that, ‘the species is suspected to have undergone a population decline of ≥80% over a period of 21 years (three generations), primarily due to observed and inferred continuing decline in area, extent and quality of habitat from slash-and-burn agriculture, logging and mining, in addition to exploitation through unsustainable hunting pressure. These causes have not ceased and will to a large extent not be easily reversible.’

Wa! That would be my sister Gish’s response to this grave explanation. But even as we wonder in sad amazement at the critically endangered status of the black-and-white ruffed lemur, we can help in its revival or at the very least protecting those that still chatter and wander in Madagascar’s Makira Forest and elsewhere. We can do that by first of all seeing the nature around us through the black-and-white ruffed lemur’s lens. That way, we shall see not just the trees but also the birds that nestle in them; not just the raging ocean waves but also the fish that ride these waves; not just the skies but the pollution that threatens their fresh blue hug.

And perhaps most important, we shall also see beyond this wild, rugged nature and see the communities that live in, or next to that nature. Environmental conservation bereft of community empowerment will ultimately not see the light of the day.

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DJ Bwakali

DJ Bwakali

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