project news

Frontier Madagascar exhibition a success!

News item submitted by Frontier
News item dated 13 Aug 2008

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On the 30th of June, Frontier-Madagascar were proud to host a public exhibition event at the University of Diego-Suarez. The aim was to celebrate the continuation of our collaboration with the University by renewing our Memorandum of Understanding, as well as to showcase the specific work we are doing in the region to promote a better awareness and understanding of our research, and to encourage further local collaborations and thus increase our integration into the local communities.

The year-long Memorandum of Understanding signed last year between ourselves and the University has provided local students with the chance to carry out research on our projects under the guidance of our scientists and reciprocally has granted us access to the university facilities and mediated introductions to other Malagasy institutions and organisations. The partnership having proved thus far to be a great success, both parties were keen to continue with the arrangement.

To mark the occasion and to witness the signing, local partners, representatives from various regional conservation organisations, as well as university students and the local public were invited along to a day of presentations from our scientists and the students from the University who carried out their research on MGF, Dahlia and Patrick. There was even a journalist which added extra pressure on the Frontier staff, who were to be presenting in French!

The series of presentations was prefaced by a brief welcome speech by the Vice-President of the University, which was followed by an introduction to the day and explanation of the Memorandum by Felicity Cooper, our Country Coordinator. The presentations were kicked off by Ally Evans, our Marine Research Officer, explaining the research the MGM team are currently pursuing regarding mangrove conservation in the attending Bay of Diego-Suarez and the mangrove replanting schemes they are working on with the help of locals from nearby villages. She underlined the important role that mangroves play in protecting coastal areas and as necessary nursery ground for many fish species.

Representing the MGF project, Amber Vater, the Principle Investigator there, talked about one aspect of her current research, regarding the comparison of bird abundance in a ‘corridor' of depleted forest with that of the two relatively undisturbed areas which this passage links together. Samiah, the Operations Manager in our Diego office then gave an overview of Frontier-Madagascar's teaching project and this was followed by talks from the two University dissertation students who had spent time on MGF.

The day ended with the signing of the Memorandum, after which everyone enjoyed a buffet of traditional Malagasy nibbles, such as zebu meatballs and ‘boc bocs' (sweet fried dough balls). Whilst enjoying the feast, our guests perused a photographic exhibition of our work and the weird and wonderful species which we encounter daily, and used the opportunity to ask us any questions with the gracious help of our interpreters.

The exhibition has sparked a lot of interest in both English and Science students from the University, and a few are now regularly visiting the project camps to teach the international volunteers Malagasy and in turn practise their English. All in all the day was a big success and we are now looking forward to a long and happy relationship with the University of Diego-Suarez.

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