Madagascar

A wonderful and very special place, Madagascar is an island state east of Africa In the Indian Ocean. Life-conditions aren't easy for its 27 millions inhabitants, keeping its unique nature under escalating pressure. As the world 6th poorest population with a BNP of only 450USD/ year, together with a very weak governess, the scene is set. The famous pristine rainforest of East Madagascar has been cut down by more than 80 %. Severe cutting for firewood all over the huge country threatens many endemic species. Heavy overgrazing by traditional zebu oxen  creates erosion, bringing wild life and eco systems under tremendous pressure all over the island - the 4th biggest on the planet. Clay digging for bricks in the rice paddies, fueled by the rapid urbanization, undermines the fertility of the soil, leading to reduced food-production. Lack of essential services, such as basic education, access to modern medicine, and a very poor infrastructure together with high corruption levels, generate a low trust towards the state and decision makers. Chinese land-grabbing is another big problem, forcing poor farmers off their lands. All in all, the population of Madagascar are in a extremely vulnerable position. All the while a "hunt for souls" is going on, as especially the evangelic churches are very active in their efforts to convert the indigenous people to their belief system. Measured in wealth, Madagascar is one of the worlds poorest nations, but also one of the most beautiful places to visit due to its ravishing nature, rare species, and the hospitality of its people. With no international attention on Madagascar, the island is pretty much left to it self, which is truly a shame, as my pictures hopefully depict.

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