We are shocked and saddened by news of the brutal murder of 70-year-old Henri Rakotoarisoa, president of a community association helping to protect an endangered rainforest in Madagascar. We send condolences to his family, friends and fellow community of environmental defenders.
Mr Rakotoarisoa was president of the community conservation association Mialo, which protects the Ankazondandy forest outside Moramanga city, and had repeatedly confronted and reported on illegal loggers in this area of primary forest. He was killed in an attack reportedly involving a large group of people, found with his hands tied, his throat cut, and stab wounds to his heart and back.
“Like the rest of the environmental community and people across the country, we are apalled by this murder of a respected elder who was simply looking after a forest in a community-protected area, in a country where forests are disappearing at an alarming rate,” said Peter Bouckaert, a Senior Advocacy Advisor for Blue Ventures in Madagascar.
The Mialo association had recently applied to the government to take full charge of forest management to increase local protection of biodiversity.
“We know that many environmental activists in Madagascar, who are carrying out vital work to sustainably manage ecosystems and protect nature for present and future generations, will be scared,” he added.
“Environmental activists around the world are facing increasing threats of intimidation, detention, violence and even murder. It is imperative that people caring for our planet and safeguarding its future are respected and protected.”
Blue Ventures is a marine conservation organisation that works with coastal communities in Madagascar to rebuild tropical fisheries by supporting locally-led management of coastal areas.