February 12, 2015– Rosewood logging begins again in Madagascar. Following the political coup in Madagascar in 2009, timber barons sent loggers into Madagascar’s protected forests to harvest precious woods, like ebony and rosewood. Thousands of trees were cut to be sold illegally on international markets by poor Malagasy making very little money for their dangerous, illegal work, while the timber barons are making millions. Lemur bushmeat hunting increased alongside logging inside protected areas. For every rosewood log harvested, numerous lighter weight trees are needed to float the dense rosewood out of the forest, and other trees are damaged in the felling and dragging process. Government officials promise swift action for illegal logging, but the payouts per log are high in a poor country. The damage adds up quickly, and we have word from friends in Madagascar that rosewood harvesting has begun anew. The following post was sent as an email throughout the lemur conservation community by esteemed conservation activist and scientist Jonah Ratsimbazafy.
February 11, 2015 — Few days ago, rumours were circulated in Maroantsetra that rosewood campaign
will be open on February 12 (tomorrow).. And today, hundreds of people
entered the forest of Masoala without fear..In other words, Madagascar
continues to bleed… Surely, the next generations will no longer see
Who can stop this bleeding? The former Ministry of Environment claimed Zero
Tolerance to those involved in rosewood traffics and the President of the
Republic of Madagascar also said a year ago that he will handle it.. But the
reality is that fighting against rosewood illegal harvesting and exportation
seem not to be the top priority of the government .. WORDS ARE NOT ENOUGH.
We need clear actions to stop it. We think that honest authorities should
keep their words (Parole d’homme/Tenin-dehilahy.). Do not let people to lose
their trust to you folks authorities..
Of course, we won’t let our dynamic and young Ministry of Environment to
feel that he is alone in this fight of stopping Madagascar bleeding, but
people want to see from the government that Madagascar authorities do really
want/express to fight against the rosewood exploitation no matter how hard
it is as it is a real shame for us.
Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar (GERP)
Co-Vice Chair – Madagascar section
IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group
You can help! Spread the word about illegal rosewood logging in Madagascar by sharing this post across your networks. Have conversations about lemurs and conservation. The more people who know, the more pressure can be brought on the government of Madagascar to take a stand. We want Madagascar’s officials to know they are not alone in the fight against the destruction of their natural heritage.
Chris Smith serves as education specialist for the Duke Lemur Center. He holds a master’s degree in environmental management from Duke University, and is a member of the National Association for Interpretation. Find Chris on Twitter at @EnvEdChris.