Sunday, 14 August 2016

Why Madagascar?

We are off in four days on our great adventure to Madagascar.

Why Madagascar? It seems everyone asks that question. That might be part of the attraction. It is a different place. It has its own plants and animals, its own people. It is just different. It is definitely a photographer’s paradise with lemurs, baobab trees, a beautiful coast (it is an island after all) with fishing villages and white sandy beaches, a limestone forest, a national park that reminds everyone of the US southwest, and the eastern rain forest.

Have I been thinking about a trip to Madagascar for a long time? Not really. But it was always kind of there in the back of my mind. My wife and I lived in Botswana for about ten years back in the 70’s and 80’s. We had a good friend at that time, Ellen Drake, who  lived in Botswana for about 30 years. Ellen was a writer. She was fascinated with baobab trees.

The second question I get is, "What is a baobab tree?"  If you do not remember the Little Prince and his tree, here are a couple photographs of the baobabs of Madagascar:

Ellen always wanted to do a coffee table book on baobabs. She did get a small book published, but not a coffee table book. She even made a trip to Madagascar in the 90’s to view and photograph several species.

Here is a short excerpt from her book, “A book of Baobabs”:

“There are eight species of baobabs in the world today. Seven of these occur in Madagascar, and six of those seven are endemic – i.e. they do not occur naturally anywhere else.

Madagascar is exceptional, not just for its baobabs, but for nearly everything else as well. One travel writer said she liked the place because of its 'otherness'. Madagascar doesn't live by the rules that govern the rest of the world.

Madagascar is the fourth largest island on earth. It was separated from the gigantic land mass known as Gondwanaland when the latter began to break apart some 165 million years ago. From the time of its separation from the continents, Madagascar's fauna and flora evolved in isolation.

All of the island's indigenous mammals are endemic, as are over 90% of its reptiles and 80% of all native plants. Of the world's 400 odd families of flowering plants, 200 grow only in Madagascar.”

In addition to a book on our whole  trip to Madagascar, I am going to make a book on baobabs, or I should say “Ellen’s Big Book of Baobabs”. I will combine her text with my photographs I take on this trip with ones I took on my trip to Botswana in 2011.  (such as the one below from Kubu Island)

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