Madagascar is one of the world’s top five biodiversity hotspots, but it faces the ongoing loss of its forests. In the northeast, illegal logging of rosewood and ebony trees has hit Marojejy National Park and Masoala National Park especially hard. These two UNESCO World Heritage Sites are categorized as “in danger.”
Marojejy National Park has over 550 square kilometers of mountainous primary rainforest. It is home to 11 species of lemurs, including the critically endangered silky sifaka. Fewer than 2,000 silky sifaka lemurs remain in the wild; none has ever survived in captivity. Most of the remaining animals live in Marojejy. One of the largest concentrations of silky sifakas lives near the northwestern boundary of the reserve, near the remote rural community of Antsahaberaoka. Because this village is pressed against the national park boundary, community members struggle to find land to farm. Sometimes, they grow crops inside the reserve.
The people of Antsahaberaoka report that poor schools are their biggest problem. Their primary school is a deteriorating, parasite-ridden small bamboo and wood building. They also need a footbridge, because during the rainy season, many children (and adults) are unable to cross a large river to get to the school. Seacology is providing funding for a new school, restroom block, and 40-meter footbridge. In exchange, the community, working with the Lemur Conservation Foundation, has agreed to stop all habitat disturbance for 30 years in 4,819 acres (1950 hectares) of Marojejy National Park next to the village.