February 2019 is dedicated to Madagascar Wildlife Conservation. We interview Lucile Mialisoa Raveloarimalala, Coordinator at MWC, who tells us about their important work and how we can support them.
Tell us about the history of Madagascar Wildlife Conservation.
Madagascar Wildlife Conservation is a non-profit organization formed in 2003 by young Malagasy researchers who work in the Alaotra region. Our goal is to link conservation with sustainable development in the Alaotra region. The organization received its agreement from Ambatondrazaka prefecture on March, 3, 2016 (Agreement letter N°17-pref/AZK/ASS.16.).
Our mission is to conserve and protect the species that are emblematic to the region, and to provide environmental education and income for local communities through research activities.
Where is MWC located?
MWC is headquartered in Ambatondrazaka. We work closely with Durrell — who manages Lake Alaotra — on environmental education programs, and we work in Andreba gara where ecotourists can visit Parc Bandro.
Which lemur species do you work with?
MWC works to protect every endemic species found in Alaotra, but our work is mainly focused on Bamboo lemurs — especially the Alaotran Bamboo Lemurs (Hapalemur alaotrensis) — and their habitats: marshes.
Bamboo lemurs are critically endangered. Thus, conservation efforts to protect them are our top priorities.
How does MWC help lemur conservation?
MWC has an environmental education program with primary schools close to Alaotra. In this program, we share many educational materials, and are building a library and research center as well as the ecotourism park named “Park Bandro and Camp”. We work closely with local communities and members from DWCT (Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust) in this program.
MWC has a research program in Alaotra region which is a joint collaboration with many NGOs and Universities. There are many scientific papers about the results of our research on Bamboo lemurs which are published in highly ranked international journals such as MCD journal, Oryx, and PCI.
What are some of MWC’s recent achievements?
Currently, we are working with local communities to set up our educational program through contests and games that we have created to demonstrate the dependency of ecosystems in Alaotra which are swamps, fertile lands and the lake. The project is funded by the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Fund (MMBF).
We also recently won the grant from “Coopération Décentralisée, Ille et Vilaine” in France for the Bandro Park which has been nominated to be a pilot-site. The fund is managed with Alaotra-Mangoro region and the local guides and is used for building infrastructures for conservation needs and ecotourism services. The sanitary block for visitors was built on 2016.
What are some goals and expectations that MWC has for the future?
Improving Bandro Park
For this year, in regards to the Bandro Park, we are going to build the platform, traffic signs within the Park, jetty and canoes.
Extension of Educational Program
Ultimately, we would like to extend our educational program for the whole primary schools in Alaotra region and also work further with the local communities.
Extension of Ecotourism to Increase Local Income
We would like also to extend the ecotourism activities in order to promote incomes for local communities that are not dependent to the local biodiversity. For this, we have created the Alaotra Ranosoa platform that gathers local communities from four localities. The activities within this platform are focused on exchange visits in the Bandro Park which help them to learn and trains them about ecotourism and its benefits. Through these activities, they will be able to do ecotourism activities in their villages and manage them for future generations.
Do you have volunteer opportunities at Madagascar Wildlife Conservation?
Right now, MWC does not receive volunteers except those from Peace Corps, but we will be thinking about increasing possibilities for volunteering.
What do you need donations for right now?
At the moment, we need donations to:
Continue our education program.
- Our environmental educational program in the primary schools has been interrupted for some years due to lack of funding. Thus, we need to train the teachers on how to use the educational materials. We also need additional educational materials for children to practice what they are learning about the swamp ecosystem. And, we need to fund the green class and the evaluation of the program.
Finance the guest room in Andreba-gara.
- The funding we received to finance this guest room is finished, but it has not covered enough of the costs. We need funds to maintain the guest room and to pay the employees’ salary to manage and run it. It’s important to note that the employees we hire to run this ecotourism activity are all from the local communities. This includes the gardener, the keeper, the cook, and the guides. They work only if there are guests.