eyewitness account of pillage of National Park in the Sava region of Madagascar ( translated from Sobika)

Because of the current vacuum in security forces in some regions of Madagascar, there is an ongoing looting of Malagasy National Park by organized mobs looking for rosewood and other rare kinds of woods.
These crimes have been documented by many already: The New York Times , The Globe and Mail, NGO and Foko blogger Koloina (twitter) yet nothing is being done to prevent further pillage of the forest and the protection of endangered species:

Below is an eyewitness account of this ongoing disaster,originally posted in French on the Sobika webiste a few weeks back and translated by environmental activist and famed Malagasy singer Razia Said (also on twitter)



We are again publishing a new eyewitness account of events in the Sava region. Madagascar’s patrimony – the natural environment - is being utterly destroyed by the chaotic and unregulated exploitation of resources. Thus far, no government authority has even reacted to this crisis. If current conditions persist, the region’s forest and the many indigenous species of plants and animals which comprise the wealth of Madagascar will have completely disappeared in less than five years – because of one simple reason: the thirst for money. LET’S SOUND THE ALARM. THE SAVA REGION IS DYING. THIS REGION MUST BE SAVED!



(source remains anonymous for security reasons)

Herewith you will find the results of my research into the world of timber trafficking.


(images via Koloina)
1) The fact that too much timber is allowed to be exported is a serious matter. In light of the large quantity of logs now being stockpiled by exporters in Antalaha, the situation seems deeply disturbing. And that’s not even counting the tree-trunks which have already been shipped overseas, nor those which are still hidden in the forests, awaiting shipment.
2) The current sales price FOB at Vohemar ranges from 5 to 6 USD per kilo of top-ranked (or “first-choice”) timber. During the best season, that rate equals about 45,000 Fmg per kilo or 45 Million Fmg per ton. Rates have even reached as high as 10 or 11 USD per kilo. The price of second-choice timber is around 3 or 4 USD per kilo, or 27 to 36 Million Fmg per ton.
3) Demi-madere (?half-finished?) planks sell for 2.50 USD per kilo, or 22,500,000.00 Fmg per ton.
4) Medium-sized shipping containers can hold 20 tons of rosewood, averaging between 110 and 140 pieces of timber each (this ratio applies if the timber is rounded – ie: not yet squared off into planks). A container of first-choice timber is worth 900 Million Fmg.
5) The weight of the logs varies enormously because the loggers do not follow rules regarding authorized cuts. Some short, slender logs weigh a mere 75 kilos. The largest log I saw, however, weighed a record-breaking 1,405 kilos, with a length of 3.30 meters and a diameter of 90 cm. Incredible ! How did they manage to get it out of the forest? Average logs weigh about 200 kilos, measuring 2.50 meters with a 40 cm diameter.
6) Among the 13 logging permits approved during this period, some are for loggers new to this region. There is no quality control, few machines and little space to work. Some loggers, however, are experienced and have mastered the concept of quality both in woodcutting and in purchasing. They work with good machinery and proper space.

1) The older and better exporters are voicing complaints about the newer exporters, whom they accuse of ignoring the rules about log size and surface area to be logged as well as the spacing between cuts. The new exporters encourage indiscriminate logging and are careless about grading wood suitable for export. This leads to frequent complaints by foreign purchasers who demand refunds, damaging the image of the logging business, and indeed of the whole country.
2) As for the villagers, the local collectors sell timber at 15,000 Fmg per kilo to big collectors and exporters. The collectors recruit young people from the village, paying them between 25,000 to 35,000 Fmg per day to transport the cut timber out of the forest where it is stockpiled.
3) I made another discovery: many statements filed with the Ministry as part of requests for logging and timber storage permits are simply false. Once the Ministry approves a request, the loggers rush to fill the authorized timber amount, then push delivery of the timber to port as quickly as possible. The collectors panic and struggle to fill their quotas. Some collectors use deception, and fill hollow tree trunks with sand or gravel to increase their weight at delivery. Under cover of darkness, some collectors steal timber from others. Every night, timber collectors and wood haulers crowd the village bars until dawn, drinking away their profits – especially on weekends. People’s behavior has changed. They have become aggressive and cruel, vaunting their prowess with boasts and fakery. They give no thought to consequences, risks or even rules…
4) Policemen on duty in Manantenina are paid 25,000 Fmg. According to people I’ve heard chatting in the bush-taxis, there have even been clients of Belaoko lokoho who have stopped the vehicle asking to transport Bolabolas. The taxi driver refused.
5) Passengers in bush-taxis talk a lot about the issue of logging inside the Park. They have mentioned that the timber collectors are leaving the Park to await the reaction of the new President (TGV), since they fear he will pass a new law aimed at protecting the Park. But after the President passed through Sambava, not a word was spoken about the problem of that particular Park. Suddenly, the wood collectors went back to work in the Park with much more confidence and assurance that the government would not get involved. Can this be confirmed?

And another source:


I’ve just returned from two weeks in the forest, where I discovered that every stream leading down to the sea along countless branches and confluences is awash with timber. This is inevitable, and a cause of great dismay.
Out in the bush, I’ve discussed this issue with the loggers, with the timber collectors, with traffickers we know, with everyone involved. Their conclusions are unambiguous, direct and raw.
Yves recently posted this on his blog: “If we refuse to proceed down the pathway of the court and of reason, rocky and difficult as it may be, but worthy of our most beautiful discoveries, then we may well design our own funeral monument, built in a trash heap, on which the last one of us will perhaps have the strength to carve these words: “Here lies humanity, its vanity flown. No flowers, no crowns. Nothing but a great burst of laughter!”

I don’t know if you’ve heard of the “the Butcher” of XXX, former mayor of XXX. His wife is the current mayor. For the past thirty years, he has been hunting in the very same woods where I spent two weeks getting lost. The Butcher has built his business there, with ten trained dogs, hunting rifles with 5-shot magazines (the cartridge casings have been found). He kills everything his dogs hunt down. It’s a massacre. An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 animals killed.
He sells the meat to the Chinese community of the SAVA region, of Tamatave and even of Tana…and even in the Makira district…Down there, in a single territory we find varecia rubra, varecia variegata, the offspring of crossbreeding between both species, as well as simpona, babakoto, komba albifrons, coronatus, avahi, lepilemur, the aye-aye, hapalemur griseus and another species of hapalemur which could be prolemur simus. Unfortunately, due to the depredations of “The Butcher”, the animals are terrorized, and flee from human beings, and even from human odor. What a nightmare…”

SIGNED: An internet user who wants the world to take notice of what is happening now in the SAVA region.

1 comment:

  1. Is not it time to Raise voice and fill up aManifesto worldwide to be sent to the UNSG sand UNEP to stop this Butchery!!

    This is a crime against Humanity ,against Babakoto,komba and the rest who are after all our ancestors!!

    Let us raise Voices and help Madagascar to survive these predators!SIGN UP!