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The Gap Year Blog

Project Blogs - Madagascar


My first couple of weeks in Madagascar have been hectic but a lot of fun. Getting to grips with the role of Project Coordinator is no easy task, as there is always something that needs doing and too few minutes in the day sometimes. However, with a beautiful beach as an office makes up for it.

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I’ve been in Madagascar now for three weeks and am already adjusted to camp life. Sand gets everywhere, there’s no such thing as too much deet and you can’t avoid sharing your showers with the geckos.

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After spending over ten months on Frontier’s Madagascar terrestrial ecology project on Nosy Be I am approaching my second wet/rainy season on the island. This has brought with it the return of certain aspects of the area’s ecology reminiscent of my first few weeks in country.

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One of our recent community volunteers, Amina Lien, is studying music at the University of York, so came to the Madagascar project with interest in Malagasy music. With school curricula being different over here, and music not being taught in the principal schools, we turned to the local youth group we run for some insight.

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Recently, I’ve been thinking about the conservation work we’ve been doing in Madagascar on the Forest and Marine projects. Day in and day out we go on surveys to collect data, but I can’t help but wonder what it’s all for. The more I think about it, conservation as a process is both completely crucial and utterly pointless.

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If I’m ever going to get away with continuing to call Ireland the Emerald Isle, it’ll have to be because I accept Madagascar has too many colours on top of its brilliant greenery to be descriptively pinned down by a single adjective.

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I’d never really tried street photography before. As I'm from the countryside, my limited photography experienced entered around landscapes and wildlife. Coming to Madagascar, I expected it to be much the same; however upon arriving in the busy town of Hell-Ville as Media and Journalism Intern, I took it as the perfect opportunity to get some practice in. While these were my first attempts at street photography, here are some of the things I learnt along the way.

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Madagascar is such a faraway place, a third world country, and a unique location when it comes to its endemic species and wildlife. As a result, many people come here with some preconceptions and misconceptions. I’ve been collecting some of the most common pre-conceptions from various volunteers to see if some of these pre-existing ideas can be corrected.

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Shabana Hamir came here on the Construction Project for two weeks but quickly extended her time with us in Madagascar to stay out here for a month. I spoke to her recently about her time here and why she chose to double her time on the project.

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Matt Smart is one of our ARO’s on the Frontier Forest Conservation Project in Madagascar, and is coming to the end of his 6 months working out here. I caught up with him about his experiences so far, and discussed why Madagascar is so special in it’s wildlife.

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