Anthropologists are well aware that there are wars in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, areas where humans have existed the longest. But rarely do we suggest that the roots of these conflicts are competition for natural resources, i.e., fighting for access to farming and grazing land and access to water. Madagascar has been populated by humans for only a few thousand years, yet a shocking portion of its natural resources has been destroyed. Today it is the 6th poorest country on Earth. This grinding human poverty, where 70% of the population is malnourished, is partially caused by destruction of natural resources by fires since human arrival. I will discuss the current political and economic situation in Madagascar and offer two possible predictions for Madagascar of the future. These predictions could apply globally.
Patricia Wright is a primatologist, anthropologist, and conservationist. Wright is best known for her extensive study of social and family interactions of wild lemurs in Madagascar. She established the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments at Stony Brook University. She worked extensively on conservation and contributed to the establishment of the Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar. She was the first woman to receive the Indianapolis Prize for Animal Conservation in 2014, as well as receiving three medals of honor from the Malagasy Government (Knight, Officer, Commander) for her work in Madagascar. Professor Wright has honorary degrees from the University of Antananarivo and the University of Fianarantsoa. Her recent books include, For the Love of Lemurs: My Life in the Wilds of Madagascar (2014) and High Moon Over the Amazon: My Quest to Understand the Monkeys of the Night (2013). Her research has been highlighted in the National Geographic Magazine, by the BBC Natural History Unit, the National History Magazine and in several films and TV series, including an IMAX film, Island of Lemurs: Madagascar. She has won numerous award and fellowships including being made a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow in 1989.