With Madagascar’s government paralyzed after a recent coup, looters are invading the African island country’s protected wildlife sanctuaries, harvesting trees and threatening critically endangered lemurs and other species, conservationists said this week.
Marojejy National Park in northern Madagascar has been closed to tourism. In other parks, rangers are abandoning their posts, according to reports.
Patricia Wright, a conservationist and lemur expert, said she had received reports that rangers were abandoning their posts in other parks because of fears for their safety.
“What’s happening in the north is very worrying, because that is the home of two of the most endangered primates in the world, the silky sifaka and the Perrier’s sifaka,” she said.
The trouble appeared to be confined for the moment to parks in Madagascar’s northern areas, said Wright, a professor in the Department of Anthropology at New York State’s Stony Brook University and former member of National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration.
Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done:
Both Wright and Mayor were at a loss as to what could be done in the short term.
“One thing we can do is create awareness about this,” Mayor said.
Wright said she was trying to contact foundations and agencies that sponsor conservation in Madagascar.
“A big worry is that funding dries up for conservation because of the coup. That will leave the national parks without resources and completely exposed to exploitation,” Wright said.