On July 31, 1760, L'Utile, a ship of the French East Indian Company loaded with an illegal cargo of about 160 Malagasy slaves, was shipwrecked on a barren, windswept islet now known as Tromelin Island, 500 km east of Madagascar. The French crew, with the help of the surviving Malagasy, built a makeshift boat and set sail for Madagascar two months later, leaving behind 60 Malagasy with three months’ provisions, a letter recognising their good conduct and the promise that someone would come back for them. Weeks passed, then months, then years. Since 2006, archeological teams have gone to Tromelin to examine the wreck site and learn about the lives of the marooned Malagasy: diary of the 2010 campaign. [more inside]
Baobab Trees I was not aware that baobab trees grew anyplace but Africa, so it blew my mind to find out that they also live in India and Australia. They were likly introduced by Africans in both cases.
The folks at the Duke Lemur Center are helpfully offering you the opportunity to figure out: what kind of lemur are you? [more inside]
The Madagascar Journals is part one of a charming, thoughtful travelogue by Matt Kresling. Linked from Uke Hunt, purveyors of all fine things ukulele.
"Richard Lewis is director of Durrell's Madagascar programme. Here he speaks about how the team and the local villagers are working to protect the world's rarest tortoise. This includes the drastic measure of "defacing" the beautiful shells in order to make the animals worthless on the black market."
The Penguins of Madagascar is a funny, fast-paced, and family-friendly cartoon series that you may not be watching... yet. [more inside]
During a raid on the Gibson Guitar factory, a million dollars worth of Madagascar ebony and rosewood were seized under the 100-year-old Lacey Act which protects endangered species. But the Lacey Act is retroactive and also covers the trade in vintage instruments, which means owners can be asked to account for every wooden part of their guitars when re-entering the U.S.
Current TV previously & previously, the media company founded by Al Gore after the 2000 election, has picked up the kinds of in depth long form journalism being rapidly dropped by major networks, but has been tantalizingly unavailable for those without cable; until now. They have been putting their Vanguard episodes up on their website and on YouTube. [more inside]
Photos: World's Biggest, Strongest Spider Webs Found: "Unlike most spiders, Darwin's bark spiders will sometimes wrap several insect corpses into a single cocoon, creating a snack pack for later consumption."
The Stone Forest of Madagascar: Huge, spectacular pictures of another world by National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez. A non-Flash version of the site is also available.
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
Producing the spider silk—the only example of its kind displayed anywhere in the world—involved the efforts of 70 people who collected spiders daily from webs on telephone wires, using long poles. A unique piece of golden yellow silk brocade cloth, woven from spiderwebs, is on display at the Museum of Natural History in New York. To harvest enough silk to make the cloth, more than a million female golden orb spiders were collected in Madagascar, "milked" for silk, and released back into the wild. The golden spider silk was woven by Malagasy artisans into lamba Akotifahana, a type of brocade that is traditionally reserved for the aristocracy; the entire process took 4 years. [more inside]
Korea blog the Marmot's Hole reports on the crisis in Madagascar: Madagascar’s defense minister has resigned after security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters Saturday (in late January), killing 28. More than 100 have been killed since anti-government protests began two weeks ago. And what may have been the impetus for the protests? The final straw for many was the mooted plan to lease one million acres in the south of the country to the Korean firm Daewoo for intensive farming. Malagasy people have deep ties with their land and this was seen by many as a betrayal by their president. [more inside]
Queen Ranavalona I, best known as a villainess in George Fraser's novel Flashman's Lady, ascended the throne of Madagascar in 1835. Known abroad as the Bloody Mary of Madagascar, the Queen's favourite methods of execution included half-boiling and tossing off of cliffs, and over a third of her population died under her reign. Although she and her court wore French dress, Ranavalona banned Christianity and drove Europeans off the island. Nevertheless, she united Madagascar and kept it free of French or British control at a time when other African nations were brought into the growing empires. [more inside]
They are not the prettiest creature's around. More information and links here. The aye-aye is endangered mainly because Malagasy regard them as unlucky and kill them on sight. [more inside]
Gifts & Blessings. The textile arts of Madagascar.
Bubonic plague strikes again... It seems that bubonic plague has never actually gone away with reports of occurences in Madagascar, Bolivia and now it seems, from New Mexico. Given that the disease has been diagnosed and treated outside of the host cities in the cases of the Bolivian woman and the couple in New York, I think this highlights how diseases we tend to classify as third world health problems, are merely a plane ride away from causing an outbreak here.
Soccer team loses 149-0 on intentional own goals. I've heard of taking dives but this sounds a bit much!