The cry of the dolphin
Russian WWF Director Viktor Nikiforov visited Madagascar in October 2009. In Tuléar, in the south of the island, he visited a WWF project protecting spiny and dry forest as well as one of the biggest coral reef systems in the world. During his visit to the village of Maromena, Viktor heard an incredibly inspiring story. It’s the story of a big dolphin rescue operation. And it’s the story about people in Maromena and Befasy who are about to turn around their fate.
“During the coast patrol I told local experts about our work on polar bear conservation in the Russian Arctic and about problems related to climate change. I was wondering what environmental problems people in these small fishery villages might have. Pele Bruno (44 year old) is the head of a small village called Maromena. He thinks that people have started to notice the changes since 1986. Local life highly depends on the rainy season. It used to start in November and last till late March or early April. Now they only get rain during January and February. This is bad for the cultivation of the main crop – maize. The yield is decreasing while the population is growing. It exceeds 800 people nowadays. The fish yield is also decreasing and people are worried about their future…
But there is hope. Supported by WWF Tuléar, villagers from Maromena and Вefasy have decided to establish a protected marine area covering 25’000 hectares. They now wait for the official papers, but have already ceased fishing since 2008. They believe that fish stocks will recover. The number of dolphins has already increased since 2005 when people stopped to hunt them. This initiative was supported by WWF and other environmental NGOs in the area. Before that time, people from the village of Maromena killed about 20 dolphins every year.
At 10am on the 1st of September 2009, people in Maromena heard anxious cries of dolphins – 75 dolphins were stranded and cried as if they called people for help. Virtually all people from the village participated in the rescue operation. Local WWF coordinator Sonina Velonjara also helped to save the animals’ lives. The rescuers put fishing nets around the dolphins and carried them to their pirogues to transport them further out. Within one hour all dolphins were rescued.
I talked to local fishermen and asked them, what they think about dolphins. After all, dolphins are fish eaters… “You know”, they answered, “we have understood that dolphins are not rivals to us. They accompany us during fishing. They are our fellow travelers, our partners”"