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Category: Forest Conservation

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Volunteers with Silver Linings

January 2020


Our volunteers and programs came to an unfortunate halt this past week. A tropical storm passed over, which made way for an unusual week. Due to poor visibility and high swells our marine volunteers were unable to dive. The turtle conservation volunteers didn’t get to do their active turtle surveys. The muddy and slippery trails meant no hiking for the forest volunteers. Teaching and community volunteers were confined to Turtle Cove Camp, as boat rides and hiking to Ampang became too risky.

Wet season is no joke, and we take all of the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety. Despite everything, the positive energy displayed by our volunteers shined through and saved the week. Vibrant new volunteers gave it their all and carried out beach cleans, strengthened their species knowledge through games and lectures, countless bamboo straws and eco brick were also made!


The most significant event of the week was by far our beach clean. We had volunteers from all programs join in and take part. It is the middle of turtle nesting season, and although we have been eagerly awaiting any sign of turtle activity, we’ve received no indication of turtles nesting. So, when we came to find a beach littered with about fifty eggs, it was equally devastating and exciting. Turtle Conservation Manager, Russel, was part of the beach clean-up crew. He was able to offer valuable insights into what had occurred and what it meant for the baby turtles.

Unfortunately, due to the fragility of turtle nests (or clutches), the beached turtle embryos had no chance of survival. Two important and sensitive factors when turtle eggs are laid in their nest would be their orientation within and temperature. These factors ultimately affecting their survival. The harsh storm and exposure on the beach meant that there was no chance of survival for the turtle eggs that we had found. Russel opened a turtle egg and talked everyone through turtle development.


Although a sad experience, our volunteers found it very informative and left with a greater understanding of the many challenges that these animals face. We left our beach as clean as possible and continued our clean ups as much as we could throughout the rest of the week. The energy of our volunteers is unparalleled and we wouldn’t be anything close to what we are without them.


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BlogForest Conservation

MRCI Agroforest, Planting For The Future.


Over the last few months our forest staff have been working on revamping our agroforest project. During the dry season our forest volunteers have been helping collect seeds to grow in our camp nursery so that we would have lots of seedlings to plant on our agroforest plot of land. An agroforest is traditionally trees and shrubs intermingled with crops and livestock. Our goal for the MRCI plot of land is to plant indigenous trees and shrubs along with crop plants as a prototype of an agroforest here on Nosy Komba.


Our forest conservation staff and volunteers have been working hard clearing parts of the land for crops so that the land would be ready for planting. As the land is being cleared everything cleared is being repurposed. The rocks that are found are being used to create a pathway around the land, the sticks and branches are being used to create a fence, and the plants which are cleared are being composted for future use on the land.

Now that the rain is starting again on Nosy Komba, our volunteers are beginning the planting process! Currently bean and peanut plants are being planted and seem to be taking very well on the land. Our forest staff wants to begin planting citronella around the perimeter of the property as a natural repellent of bugs to protect the crops. In the near future our Mango seedlings will be planted on the land as well. Our dream is to have a very diverse plot of land which can support many indigenous species and crops!

If you are interested in getting involved in our ongoing agroforest project

then be sure to check out our Volunteer Forest Conservation Program

Ninasphoto_joshagroforest_argoplot_1dec2018_ agroforest

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Black Lemurs
BlogForest Conservation

Black Lemurs of Nosy Komba Island

Black Lemurs - Mum&Baby

The Season To See Baby Black Lemurs

As we entered mid-September Volunteers were excited to report sightings of infant black lemurs! Tiny masses of dark fur clinging to the bellies of females almost makes them easy to miss! Seeing infants is a huge deal. However due to the mating pattern of the black lemur, which is dwindling in population size.

Black lemurs typically mate between April and May and have a gestation period of approximately 125 days. One offspring is the most common however twins are also a possibility! Black lemurs are only found in the north-western area of Madagascar making Nosy Komba one of the only places you can see them in the wild. Due to a lack of research done specifically on black lemurs, experts are not positive of the exact remaining size of the species. It is estimated that black lemurs have the lowest population size within the genus of only 450-2,300 lemurs. This low population size makes the sighting of infants that much more special.

Black Lemurs

Having an annual breeding schedule means the lemurs typically only breed once a year. Once the baby is born, it clings tightly to its mother. They will shift only slightly to nurse for its first three weeks. At 4 weeks old, the baby black lemurs can begin to move small objects and can even travel a small distance. By 7 weeks old they can explore their environment. The babies are not completely independent until 5-6 months when they are weaned from their mothers.

Black Lemur - Baby Snuggled with Mum

Moms provide more than food for the babies though! The moms also groom, protect, transport and socialize their young. During the period of time that the baby is dependent on their mother. They are slowly learning how to do these things for themselves. Eventually once the baby black lemur has reached 2 years old they have become sexually matured and can begin reproducing themselves.

Unfortunately, the population size continues to be threatened. This is due to the loss of habitat in their already limited natural location and their breeding pattern.  Hopefully through the continued efforts to conserve their natural habitats and to raise awareness and education on Black Lemurs and their species, MRCI can continue to study these amazing creatures for decades to come!

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BlogForest Conservation

Bamboo Straw Initiative

(1)bamboo straw _ilos_17august2018

Goodbye Plastic and Hello To The Bamboo Straw!

MRCI preforms regular beach cleans on Nosy Komba and the most common trash found during these cleans is plastic. Plastic is a major issue for the environment because it takes over 200 years to degrade. However due to the fact that plastic is not biodegradable, the tiny plastic fragments will remain on the earth forever.

Bamboo Straw Harvesting

Unfortunately, plastic drinking straws are primarily made out of type 5 plastic, or polypropylene. This type of plastic is not easily recyclable so most recycling plants do not accept type 5 plastic. Without a means to recycle plastic straws, they tend to end up in landfills, the ocean, or are burned. According to, straws/stirrers are the 11th most found ocean trash in cleanups. Straws are also typically a single use item, meaning that once it is used it is thrown away. With drinking straws being a common addition to any drink in most restaurants, the amount of straws being used in a day around the world is astronomical.

InitialProcessing_camp_25july2018_ Bamboo Straw Initiative

Due to these facts our Volunteers and staff were determined to find a way to cut down on the use of plastic straws on Nosy Komba. With the combined efforts of the Marine and Forest programs the idea to replace plastic straws with the bamboo straw was born!

SawingDownToSIze_camp_25july2018_ Bamboo Straw Initiative

Bamboo is widely found on the island, is fast growing, and is 100% biodegradable! Our Forest program has added bamboo harvesting into their regular schedule now and the production process has begun! Our Forest Volunteers harvest bamboo shoots that are the appropriate straw width then bring them back to camp where they are processed. The Bamboo is then cut down to the right length, smoothed out, and cleaned. Processing the straws is an activity that all members of camp can take part in!

FinalProduct_camp_25july2018_ Bamboo Straw Initiative

The next step is to test out our first batch of straws! MRCI will be providing straws to a local restaurant who has agreed to take part in our bamboo straw testing. Our Forest program is looking to gain information on how the bamboo straw compares to their plastic counterpart during this trial. The overall goal is that the straws will become an ongoing project on camp and that multiple restaurants on Nosy Komba, and hopefully Nosy Be as well will begin to use the bamboo straw instead of plastic!

ReneeWithBamboo_foresthike_23july2018_ Bamboo Straw Initiative

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CuttingBambooShoot_foresthike_23july2018_ Bamboo Straw Initiative

Father-Daughter Conservation Adventure
BlogForest Conservation

Father-Daughter Conservation Adventure!

Father-Daughter Conservation Adventure

This month MRCI had two special volunteers on camp, Father-daughter duo, Zara and Zain. They travelled from their home in Mumbai, India, to work on our forest conservation program. During their two weeks on camp they participated in forest transects, species identifications, our lemur study, and the church walk. Both Zara and Zain brought amazing attitudes and contributed not only to their own projects, but to camp as a whole.

Zara is only 15 years old but already has a passion for conservation work. She spent months before arriving at MRCI looking for a conservation project she could volunteer on during her summer holiday. Due to her age however, she was not able to come to the MRCI camp unaccompanied by a parent, so she convinced her father to join her on this adventure! Zara felt this was the perfect opportunity to grow her own knowledge on conservation, and introduce her father to the topic.

Father-Daughter Conservation Adventure

Quality Father-Daughter Time

Zain admitted he was not sure what to expect before arriving but he agreed to join Zara so he could spend some quality father-daughter time with her. He described his time on camp as “coming out of a cocoon”. Zain stated that this trip allowed him to immerse himself in a new culture, as well as appreciate of the luxuries in his own life. He gave the example of going on the church walk, (an over night hike where the volunteers spend the night in a church). He said it was a tough hike but he was determined to get to the top. Once at the top the hikers enjoyed some traditional Malagasy food and were able to go to a juice bar which Zain and Zara both recalled as a highlight. They both agreed however, that watching the sunrise together over the ocean was one of the best memories they will be taking home with them!

When asked about their experience volunteering together both agreed that they were happy they had taken this journey together. This experience brought them closer together in ways had not foreseen and they enjoyed getting to learn new things about one another. They also shared that they were excited to take what they had learned at MRCI and apply it to their own lives, as well as share the information with others! Zain even has hopes of stating his own community and conservation projects back home!

We loved having this incredible father-daughter duo on camp and hope to see more people volunteering with their families in the future!

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