Madagascar was the first region that our SAFE Programme began working in when it started in 2013 with a major work area being helping strengthen the national capacity for amphibian conservation. The development of a new national action plan for the conservation of amphibians; the New Sahonagasy Action Plan 2016-2020 (NSAP) is one output that Durrell has had a significant involvement in. Coming out of the 2014 ACSAM2 meeting, compilation and production of the NSAP was led by Durrell staff and was finally published in July 2016.
Last month on 7 November it was officially launched in Madagascar, an important step in its adoption and implementation. Attended by a range of national and international partners and national media, the NSAP lays down an important framework for addressing the various conservation issues facing the Madagascar’s unique and threatened amphibian fauna. This importance was conveyed by the representative of the Ministry of the Environment, Ecology and Forests, Mrs Sahondra Rabesihanaka and by Franco Andreone, Co-chair of the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG) Madagascar and co-editor of the NSAP who affirmed, “It is important that such an action plan summarizes all the threats affecting the wonderful frog fauna of Madagascar. Moreover, it is the result of a collaboration work between Malagasy scientists and the international conservation biology community. Saving the frogs of Madagascar means providing a biodiversity heritage for our children.”
Tsanta Rakotonanahary, working through the Amphibian Survival Alliance as the Amphibian Programme Lead (APL) who is charged to coordinate its implementation, provided an overview of the NSAP stating that successful conservation of Madagascar’s amphibians requires the collaboration and contribution of numerous stakeholders both nationally and internationally. Encouragingly, the various public institutions, Universities, NGOs, private parks, consultants present and the British Embassy stated that they were ready to work together to ensure the NSAPs success.
Raising awareness of amphibians in the country and making them a flagship for the nation, alongside the iconic mammal and reptile species, is an important goal for the NSAP. This official launch is small first step in that and was covered in several local TV and newspapers. An important message to convey to the public, as asked by journalists present at the launch, are why amphibians are important to people’s everyday life? Tsanta Rakotonanahary replied that, “Amphibians are key indicators to many things such as climate change, water quality and environmental health, so healthy amphibian populations means healthy environment. An example is that amphibians do eat mosquito eggs and malaria is the first cause of death in Madagascar so if we manage to maintain healthy environment, humans will benefit from that”.
All those stakeholders involved in the NSAP hope that through constructive and mutual collaboration when, in five years’ time, it is reviewed both Madagascar’s amphibians and the wider environment will have benefitted from the actions outlined within it.
Moving forward Durrell through the SAFE programme are providing professional development support to Tsanta and her assistant Serge Ndriantsoa to help ensure that the NSAP will be implemented as effectively as possible.