Some people refer to Madagascar as the 8th continent due partly to its large size but mostly because of its exceptional amount of endemic flora and fauna. There are so many weird and wonderful species and plants that can only be found here, but soon they may not be found at all. Madagascar suffers from an alarming rate of deforestation, a major threat to biodiversity, as 90% of Madagascar’s endemic species live in or heavily rely on the forest. However, you’ll be pleased to know that ecotourism is one of the best ways to ensure that these pristine areas are protected. People will travel thousands of miles to experience rare delights and exceptional wonders and in doing so create an economic incentive for their survival. Now more than ever, responsible tourism has come full circle, and it is through visiting these special destinations that keeps the destinations special.
Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world and per capita income in some villages is less than US$ 200 per year – many people live on less than 1 US$ a day. Because of this, it is somewhat understandable that people would look at short-sighted solutions to their poverty, such as slash and burn agriculture and logging of precious wood such as Ebony and Rosewood. And while this might provide short-term relief, it is incredibly damaging to the country’s ecosystem and is unfortunately not sustainable. Slash and burn farming causes significant soil erosion when the rains come and deforestation takes place with no or very little attempts at reforestation.
However, what can be sustainable both for the forests of Madagascar and its people is ecotourism. Not all tourism is beneficial. In some cases it can be harmful especially when it increases pollution or pushes out locals, but that is why we focus on responsible tourism, and ecotourism specifically, which uses measures to ensure that the environment is unharmed and actively protected. Tourism (and ecotourism) has many beneficial effects on the economy of a country and the livelihood of its people. For example, a lodge in a rural area provides employment to locals, income to the local merchants who sell food or other supplies, and is committed to conserving the surrounding environment. Guides salaries are also competitive compared to other employment opportunities (or the lack thereof) and also help to inspire a passion for the flora and fauna of the country.
And when it comes to the flora and fauna, this is where Madagascar is the richest. With wildlife and landscapes like nowhere else on earth and new species being discovered almost every day, it’s a nature lover’s dream. We can’t even definitively say how many lemur species there are as scientists are still learning of new ones. Madagascar has more than half of the chameleon species in the world and an amazing variety of birdlife, with over a 100 species found nowhere else on earth. Travelling here is like travelling to another world – it’s an eye-opening experience and one that stays with visitors forever.
We’ve proudly opened many guests’ eyes to the wonders of Madagascar by offering adventures such as 1000 Views of Madagascar, Beach and Lemur Explorer, and the Manafiafy Kayak Experience. If there’s anything specific in Madagascar you’re hoping to experience, we are more than happy to create a tailor-made holiday with an inherent ecotourism focus because we firmly believe this is one of the best ways to ensure the country remains a sought-after destination for generations to come. By visiting Madagascar you are ensuring that its forests and oceans remain a haven for rare and wonderful wildlife, and are providing a sustainable profit and way of life for its people. It’s a holiday for you, help for a country, and hope for our planet.