This is perhaps the most meaningful prize that an environmentalist in Madagascar have received since long time, although before humans arrived on the Island of Madagascar.
Madagascar, is best known for its spectacular nature and incredible variety of unique plant and animal life. This is resulted from tens of millions of years of isolation from the African mainland and from people, who didn't arrive until 2,000 years ago. Endemism is marked not only at the species level, but the islands have an astounding plant families, bird families, and primate families that live nowhere else on Earth.
It is also endemic and rare to hear a Malagasy receiving an environmental prize for his work in saving this environment. Yes, leaders are needed on this very difficult time in Madagascar. We need someone to follow, and someone who gives a good examples of what should be done in environment, politicts economics ...
Thankfully, each year, the Seacology Prize give an award to an indigenous islander for exceptional achievement in preserving the environment and culture of any of the world’s 100,000 islands. The Prize highlights the heroic efforts by people who seldom receive any publicity – indigenous leaders who risk their own lives and well-being to protect their island's ecosystems and culture.
The Seacology Prize recipient this year is Mr. Rabary Desiré, a self-taught ecologist who has become an expert on Malagasy flora and fauna, especially the critically endangered Silky Sifaka lemur. He has also been active in investigations and condemnation of the illegal rosewood logging threatening the region's forests of Madagascar.
On an island of immense poverty and rapidly diminishing natural resources, Mr. Rabary is a leader in conservation. A highly sought-after research and ecotourism guide in northeastern Madagascar, Mr. Rabary has dedicated his life to preserving Madagascar's natural resources. Ecotourism guide are those villagers who have grown up near the forest, with no scientific training, but have a knowledge of the forest environment in the region.
Mr. Rabary has almost no possessions (other than books and a little clothing) and shares his small traditional two-room residence with five other family members. With the money he makes from guiding, he buys forested land in order to protect it. Years of work have finally culminated in the establishment of his own small private nature reserve, Antanetiambo (“on the high hill”), likely the only reserve in northern Madagascar that has been entirely created from start to finish by a single local resident. Located on a former coffee plantation, Antanetiambo Reserve is an inspiring example of successful reforestation in Madagascar, and today provides critical habitat for many of the island's endemic species. The reserve is visited by both local school students and tourists, and is an island of protected habitat in a sea of agricultural land, near the town of Andapa.
Here is a short video about Desiré and his reserve.
For his lifelong dedication to conserving Madagascar's biodiversity, Mr. Rabary Desiré is awarded the Seacology Prize 2010. It is a prize that makes us think about what a single person can do front of massive deforestation in Madagascar and the climate challenge… Mr Rabary has also spent most of his life time sharing his knowledge with scientists and tourists. Funny guy, during his acceptance speech, he shares the vocalizations of the silky sifaka lemurs.
Source: Seacology prize press release
Photo: 2010 Seacology Prize Recipient Rabary Desiré next to the nature reserve sign (photo credit: Rabary Desiré)