by Heather Lowe
The TSA team in Madagascar is still waiting on word from the Malagasy Forestry Authority on the legal proceedings surrounding the recent Radiated Tortoise confiscation. In the meantime, they are stretched to the limit in terms of time and resources, caring for the nearly 600 tortoises at the TSA/Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP) offices, until they are given approval to reintroduce these animals to the wild. Despite that, Herilala Randriamahazo (TSA Malagasy Tortoise Conservation Coordinator) and his team still found time recently to stage a massive outreach event, using the confiscation (and some of the tortoises!) as a tool to educate the people of Antananarivo on the conservation issues facing the critically endangered Radiated Tortoise.
The special event was held at the Nanisana Secondary School and more than 1,000 children attended, along with other members of the local community. Many other conservation organizations partnered on the event, including the MBP, Conservation International, Conservation Fusion, Le Parc Botanique et Zoologique de Tismbazaza, Alliance Voahary Gasy, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Club Vintsy, Scout and the Forestry Administration of Anamalanga Region. Six Malagasy national newspapers covered the event. Additionally, footage was gathered throughout the day that will be used to produce a documentary-style film that can be used to educate even more people nationwide. Kudos to Herilala and his partners for seizing the opportunity to turn a crisis into a learning opportunity for the people in the local community where they work.