30 March 2020
Red-breasted Coua is one of a handful of Malagasy endemic birds that is restricted to lower-elevation rainforest.
At first we hoped that by virtue of being an island and receiving low numbers of foreign visitors, we might escape this thing. Then there was a presidential announcement that three people on the last flight from France had tested positive. For a few days after it seemed calm, then the unwelcome news came through that a French tourist, who had just finished a long trip across half of the country, had tested positive, and already infected his driver, guide, and who knows who else. Given this, the chances of quick containment are plummeting. Though for the moment there are only 39 documented cases. The capital and two other major towns are in lock-down. The rest of the country, including where I live, is only partially closed down, though tense. The electricity is (usually) on, and water and food supplies haven't yet been affected. But more in my next post about the possible secondary effects in a country like Madagascar.
To be clear folks, I'm not in any sense placing myself at the center of this disaster. I'm way out at its fringes, and my life has barely been affected so far. Just thought you might be interested to know how this global battle looks from this remote island! My thoughts and wishes for courage and safety are with the people who are really fighting this thing right now. We're learning who actually makes our world run, and who takes on risk without any kind of commensurate financial payoff.