Thanks to the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund, Zoo Keeper Danni spent three weeks working in the beautiful forests of Madagascar, assisting Wellington Zoo’s conservation partner, Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG).
Kia ora everyone, here's my final update on my trip to Madagascar, assisting Wellington Zoo’s conservation partner MFG. It was an incredible experience!
The fauna survey I conducted resulted in 63 species observed in Ivoloina Zoological Park but the most important result from the study was what we did not find. None on the introduced Asian Common Toads were observed within the Park boundary for now! This is excellent news for conservation projects aimed at preventing them from reaching Ivoloina and the hundreds of endemic species that calls the forest home.
During my time in Madagascar, I was lucky enough to visit another project that MFG is involved in; their Saturday School program. In Madagascar primary school children must pass a nationwide exam to continue to middle and high school. If they do not pass this exam or if the family can’t afford for their child to take the exam then they receive no further education.
The Saturday School program was established by MFG to provide additional education for children from the rural communities to assist them to pass this exam and have the opportunity to attend high school. Across the Saturday schools established by MFG, a total of 350 children attend each week with the largest school based at Ivoloina Zoological Park.
I had the opportunity to visit the Ivoloina Saturday School where 120 children from the surrounding communities come every week to study French, Mathematics and Ecology. The children were learning about frogs and they made their very own origami frog to take home. They also helped me learn a little Malagasy in an English/French/Malagasy language lesson. Many of the children I spoke to told me they wanted to be teachers and doctors and this program is helping them achieve these goals.
I also walked to the nearest village to meet some of the local people. The two main sources of income in Ivoloina are sand and gravel (these are shovelled into canoes and taken downriver to sell to construction companies). Many people, including young children, spend their days with a mallet in hand, breaking rocks into gravel to sell. It is devastating to see so many people who are so poor having to break rocks to survive. When I asked one of the local families how hard it was to break a rock, they let me have a turn to see for myself.
I met some incredible people doing amazing conservation work in Madagascar and I hope that the results from my study will assist future programs undertaken by MFG. I would like to thank MFG and the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund staff grant for giving me this opportunity to travel to Madagascar and contribute to MFG's conservation work.
If you are interested to learn more about MFG and the conservation work they do in Madagascar, click here to see for yourself.