72-year-old Rietveld calls the situation in Madagascar “Dramatic”. He founded it about twenty years ago reserve Zazamalala on the island. Rietveld has been blind for decades, but says he can ‘still organize well’. He is trying to do everything he can to save Madagascar. The manager calls the island his ‘great love’.
In recent years he has seen the nature in the country deteriorate sharply. According to him, 95 percent of nature has disappeared in recent years.
Getting food in the forest
“I came to the island when I was young. I was amazed to see how quickly large areas of nature disappeared. I said to my wife, let’s buy a piece of land and protect nature.”
Before the corona crisis, the nature reserves were protected by security guards. But now that they have been sent home, the poor people see an opportunity to hunt. “Just as we go to the supermarket or snack bar in the Netherlands, they go to the forest to get food.”
“The local population is desperate and have no choice. In a country without benefits and services, businesses are closed everywhere and the staff are at home without income.”
And so the people go into the forest. “They have their own way of catching the animals. For example, by laying loops in cords of bicycle gears. They then place the traps on the branches where the animals walk.”
Also fell trees
“We just rescued 17 sifaka before they were to be eaten. They are endangered great white half-monkeys.”
Not only the animals, but also the forests are threatened. “Most people cook with wood here, so they come to cut down trees in the reserves. We distribute solar cookers in the villages around our area, so that they can use it to heat up their food.”
Rietveld especially hopes that something will change in the situation, ‘before a lot of animals end up just like the dodo’.