When people think of Madagascar, they think of a small and unknown island inhabited by dancing lemurs, talking zoo animals, and a group of penguins concocting their next scheme to escape the ridiculous situation in which they have put themselves. In other words, people think of the Dreamworks animated kids movie, Madagascar, as their bases for knowledge of the island.
Yet what many do not know is that the island is not small, its actually about the size of Texas, making this African country the fourth largest island in the world. Its also huge not only in size but in the number of creatures and organisms that inhabit it. More than 80% of the organisms on the island are endemic, meaning they can only be found on that island and no where else in the world. So between the large baobab tree to the exotic lemurs and fossas, these and many more are incredibly important to the research of evolution of the planet as Madagascar has evolved on its own since it broke off the mainland when the continents were still all one.
So not only is the island huge in size and organisms but it has a large population of people as well, that keeps growing more and more every year. These people rely heavily on their environment for their survival. Unfortunately, the environment can not handle so many people. As the population rises, the forests around them are shrinking, causing major concern for the future of the island.
About 93% of the forests are gone! Absolutely gone! That is incredible, especially since these forests are not coming back for another hundred years! Madagascar’s soil lack so much nutrients that once its used, it can not be reused. And so you are left with hundreds of acres of dry land that create massive erosion and dirty runoffs. The people also rely on these forest for the water shed and rice paddy fields.
And so the logical thing to say about this problem is to stop everyone from cutting these trees. But that is not so easy. These people need the trees and the land to survive, and they have every right to survive, what the real question here is, what do we do to maintain not only the forest but the organisms and people living there as well? How can they live a balanced and harmonious life?
This is the major question posed by many scientists today such as conservation scientist Dr. Luke Dollar as well as Dr. Russ Mittermeier, the President of Conservation International. Both have been working on ways to help maintain the natural habitat and finding that balance and while it has been a hard and difficult subject, there has been some improvement. Yet major improvement will not be seen until more people come together and this becomes a community effort. Everyone must take their part in maintaing and sustaining this sensitive “sphere of life” because this is not only a problem in Madagascar but around the world as well. So we must learn from this and try to alleviate the problems in our own backyard in order to ensure the survival of the planet and the human race.