Madagascar used to be paradise. Rich in natural wildlife and ecologically diverse, the island nation housed 5% of the world’s wildlife, 80% of which were completely unique to the region. Or rather, the smouldering, arid land-mass in the Indian Ocean between Africa… and… Eastern… places used to be all of those things.
Madagascar, now, is a sand clod in the sea, which is slowly washing away, with very little of its once famous fauna and flora remaining. The decimation of the indigenous wildlife, including the virtually complete destruction of the country’s forests has led to mass erosion and the island is, quite literally, washing away.
On the Air Seychelles flight that returned us to South Africa earlier this month I looked out of the window to see a swollen, brown river-mouth washing into the Indian Ocean. The land around it was literally smouldering with fires burning the last of the organic matter on the surface while the waters sucked all the sand (because this is all that remains of the once lush forests) into the sea.
It looks horrible.
I recently read Douglas Adams’ Last Chance To See. It’s an amazing book that the author penned after returning from a trip around the world, seeking out the planet’s most endangered species, among them the Komodo Dragons and Yangtse River Dolphins… and a lemur with a name that escapes me right now, in Madagascar. He mentions in the book that at the time of writing there were four Gold-tipped Lemur’s left in the world (not the species they were seeking) – and they had just been discovered. We knew of their existence for a few months before they were completely extinct. There are some species of animal in Madagascar that were wiped out completely before even being discovered.
I wonder if the makers of the movie Madagascar had any idea what a shithole their namesake had been brutalised into.
So why am I telling you this? I’m not sure, because nothing can be done to save Madagascar and it’s wildlife. The place is fucked. But I was having a discussion with a friend earlier this week where I argued that 95% of human beings were decidedly stupid and I guess this is an apt illustration.