A taste of Madagascar

by Hilary Bradt, author of Madagascar (now in its 10th edition)

Madagascar is unique: the animals, the plants, the landscape and the people are different from anywhere else in the world. The differences are low-key, however. Here there are no colourful natives performing tribal dances, no garish temples, no snow-capped mountains, no lions or tigers. Madagascar is a dish for a travel gourmet not a gourmand.

Although there is a growing number of overseas visitors seeking out adventure activities in Madagascar, most people come for the wildlife.  Evolution took a different path here, creating over millions of years what an entranced 18th century French naturalist described as "the most unexpected and marvellous forms at every step."  Madagascar was once part of the huge land mass lying mainly south of the equator which started breaking up in the time of the dinosaurs. South America drifted away from Africa, which in turn shed a further chip of land. This carried with it early life-forms: insects, reptiles, amphibians, and perhaps some primitive mammals. Convulsions in the earth's crust thrust up a spine of mountains down the centre, resulting in a wide variance of climates and habitats.

continue here . . .

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Photograph album:

Click here to view images of Madagascar.

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Current issues in Madagascar:

The September 2010 edition of National Geographic has a long article on Madagascar and on rosewood logging in particular. You can see the article and a slideshow of many fine pictures by clicking here.

To see more on the logging of rosewood in Madagascar’s national parks, please go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Op0KVYd0NY, or download a poster here.

To read about an appeal, from individuals outside of the Society, to fund the translation of Shakespeare’s works into Malagasy and put on the plays please click here.

The Al Jazeera TV channel has broadcast a documentary entitled State of Denial about the continuing political crisis in Madagascar, the lack of press freedom and the illegal rosewood logging. You can see the programme by clicking here.

You can also still hear the recent BBC Radio 4 programmes on Madagascar. The episode of 'From Our Own Correspondent' on Saturday 24th July featured the illegal trade in wildlife and logging of rosewood, and is available here; the item starts just under 18 minutes into the broadcast. The 'Crossing Continents' edition of Thursday 29th July described how Madagascar is coping with its current economic difficulties, and is available here.

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Proverbs and verse:

‘Some day, when I am old and  worn and there is nothing new to see,
I shall go back to the palm-fringed lagoons, the sun-drenched, rolling moors,
the pink villages and the purple peaks of Madagascar.’

E.A. Powell, Beyond the Utmost Purple Rim 1925

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"Tantely tapa-bata ka ny foko no entiko mameno azy."

"This is only half a pot of honey but my heart fills it up."

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"I look into the sky, flying high
We can be the dove
bringing Peace and love
We can be the white flag
To surround hate and war
We can be the hope
to the great deal of unity
For the sake of our country
We might be dark skin or light

Ugly or beautiful, Crazy or Bright
Same air we breathe day and night
Celebrate diversity
Here and there it's reality
We live in a community
Vive la différence!
We can embrace tolerance
Dampen the violence!
If we can shake each others hand
Draw the big heart on the sand
To “Madagascar, the father land”
Yes we can"


A Poem by Vao Brown, inspired by recent events in Madagascar