Republic of Madagascar, July 2018
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 450 USD/ year and with a very weak governance, a fatal scene may seem to be set. The famous, pristine rainforest of East Madagascar has been cut down by more than 80 %. Severe cutting for firewood threatens many endemic species. Heavy overgrazing by traditional zebu oxen causes erosion and brings 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, combined 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 is in an extremely vulnerable position. All the while a "hunt for souls" is simultaneously going on, as especially the evangelic churches are increasingly active in their efforts to canvass for new members and to convert the indigenous people to their belief systems. Although measured in wealth Madagascar is one of the worlds poorest nations, it is also one of the most beautiful places on earth due to its ravishing nature, rare species, and the hospitality of its people - which my photos hopefully will depict. With no international focus on Madagascar, the island is pretty much left to its own fate, which is truly a shame.