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20 August 2017 17:29 (South Africa)

Environmentalists say criminals denuding Madagascar’s forests

Environmental groups say criminals are stripping Madagascar's poorly-protected national parks of precious hardwood worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. They claim much of the wood is being stored until new export authorisations are granted for illegally cut timber. One group, Global Witness, says traders are extracting up to $800,000 a day worth of rosewood and ebony. The government is accused of having authorised the export of 325 containers of timber, which basically legalised the sale of illegally cut and collected wood. Madagascar's government has been in turmoil since a March coup, with political rivals meeting this week to resolve differences over the formation of a unity government. Environmentalists also say the gangs trap exotic animals for export to Asia's pet market. Eco-tourism is pretty much the backbone of the island's $390 million-a-year tourism industry, but the political chaos has had a dramatic impact on the sector. Read more: Reuters, AFP

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