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Madagascar - or "how not to do it" PDF Print E-mail

Our 3-week mission to Madagascar in November 2007, with a group from Florida, was a big learning experience (code for 'disaster'). As a warning to others who may suffer the same difficulties, here are the lessons we learnt.

  1. Whenever you go seeking natural history, in a third world country, remember that the habitats you have been recommended to visit will be much more degraded than you expect; more than they were when last visited by you or your contacts.This may well apply even in National Parks
  2. If it is butterflies you are after, do not expect the local people, even the guides in National Parks, to be familiar with their habitats. They may be good on birds but butterflies are another matter. In Madagascar, they will be good on lemurs, as the staple tourist attraction. And perhaps birds. But not butterflies.
  3. If you are going on a US-led trip, wherever in the world, make sure, before you sign up, that there are no collectors in it. We only learnt 24 hours before setting out that our trip would include collectors. In Madagascar, we had three, which does not make for a happy time for the photographers or filmers, hard as they, and the leader too, may try to make it go.
  4. The ethics of collecting ‘for fun’, or ‘for a friend’ need to be spelt out, and in a way that takes all necessary account of the respectable needs of scientific research. We had both kinds of collectors in our group. That there are still people collecting ‘for fun’ could come as a surprise to European butterfly-watchers, but the ethic in the US is a bit different - even archaic, you may think.
Last Updated on Monday, 23 November 2009 13:02