Some other news at our Facebook group.
Lemur Conservation Foundation (http://www.lemurreserve.org/) has financed the development of the first tourist site, called CAMP INDRI, in Anjanaharibe-Sud, thanks to the support of EnviroKidz, Madecasse, and generous private donors. Camp Indri was identified long ago as a tourist site since it is “only” a 6 hour walk from Andasibe Mahaverika (where the main road ends from Andapa) and contains easily seen “all black” Indri as well as silky sifakas in primary forest. However, for many years, Camp Indri consisted of nothing more than a clearing of land near a river, with no infrastructure whatsoever. Since February 2015, Lemur Conservation Foundation has worked with MNP to build a magnificent new dining area as well as toilet and shower facilities (see pics). Thanks LCF!
From June to December 2014, Lemur Conservation Foundation has financially supported a new boundary demarcation project with Madagascar National Parks (Andapa Branch). Over 90 metal boundary demarcation signs have been placed along the eastern boundary of Anjanaharibe-Sud. By clarifying the limit of the reserve, boundary demarcation is not only helpful to local communities but also demonstrates that conservation and forest monitoring are active in present terms. Many reserves in Madagascar have shrunk in size because of insufficient demarcation. This project also provides salaries to the local forest police, known as the Comites Locale du Parc (CLP), who play a crucial role in conservation of this reserve and are seldom paid.
In mid March and early April, two cyclones (hurricanes) slammed one after the other into northeastern Madagascar. While the area around Masoala National Park was very heavily hit, the Marojejy and Anjanaharibe-Sud region did not feel the brunt of these storms quite as hard. Marojejy National Park is open for tourism as normal, but damage to Anjanaharibe-Sud is unknown at this time.
Rice and vanilla crops in the area were badly damaged, which could seriously affect the local economy and result in even greater hardships for villagers than usual. Of course, this puts more pressure on the reserve as villagers seek alternative food sources and other means to survive.
The past decade has seen a dramatic increase in the frequency of cyclones hitting Madagascar, culminating with six during this season alone. This increase has been felt particularly strongly in the northeastern part of the island, where recovery from one cyclone is hardly possible before another hits. The future may well hold more of the same: unstable weather patterns due to global climate change are expected to produce similar devastating cyclones with increased frequency in northeastern Madagascar.
On 13 March, an American Peace Corps Volunteer who has worked for ANGAP in Marojejy and Anjanaharibe-Sud for the past two years was evacuated from the area. This emergency measure was taken after the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo was notified that the volunteer was the subject of death threats and his life was in danger.
The threats are almost certainly prompted by revelations of corruption in ANGAP and the Ministry of Environment which have been exposed by the volunteer. The threats follow a number of acts of intimidation against the volunteer, including forcible entry into his residence in Andapa and the theft of many important park documents. They also follow death threats against the family of the former director of the park, who was forced to resign his post last month.
It should be noted that the Peace Corps Volunteer who was evacuated never intended or wanted to uncover any sort of corruption, but when he was directly confronted with blatant illegal activity which irreparably harmed the park, he felt obliged to report it.
On December 3, one of the extremely large Berliet six-wheel-drive trucks that regularly traverse the reserve slid off the road between Marolakana and Anjiamazava, rolling several times to the bottom of a 30 m (100 ft) ravine. Five people were killed, and many people were injured. This is the fourth fatal accident to occur on this road in two years, and again raises serious questions about the safety and suitability of a national highway ("route nationale") passing through such steep terrain in an officially protected wilderness area.
In late September, 2005, several hundred people from the village of Matsodakana on the west side of Anjanaharibe-Sud camped for five days at the Marolakana River Crossing in the reserve without authorization from reserve authorities. The purpose of their stay was ostensibly to repair the road through the reserve between Marolakana and Anjiamazava. Unfortunately, the work performed was far more damaging to the reserve than it was helpful. Dirt was shoveled into only the deepest of ruts in the road and without any regard for water control; this will almost certainly all wash out after the first big storms of the season and cause much more erosion. A veritable village consisting of eighteen large shacks was constructed at Marolakana. Countless trees bordering the length of the road were cut for no good reason. Lemurs that were previously numerous all along this section of the road are now nowhere to be seen. Despite advance knowledge of the planned incident, the Conservation Agent and Sector Chief responsible for patrolling this area of the reserve were inexplicably absent during the entire debacle.
A new display of Madagascar’s native flora at the Presidential Palace in Iavoloha (Antananarivo) has caused an increase in tensions between the leadership of the Water and Forests Ministry and ANGAP (National Parks Department). High-ranking personnel in Water and Forests, arguing that they are the owners of the forests, have ordered the collection of Marojejya insignis palm trees from Marojejy, and Takhtajania perrieri trees from Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve. A dispute between the two government entities has flared, with the directorship of ANGAP refusing to allow these rare and relatively fragile species to be removed from their protected natural environment. In spite of this decision, however, certain ANGAP employees have taken it upon themselves to surreptitiously dig up several of these trees.