The protection of endangered species is a noble and worthwhile goal, but in parts of the world where scratching out a living is the best many individuals can manage, preserving flora and fauna often takes a back seat.
In Madagascar thousands have flocked to the African island nation’s newest national park hoping to strike it rich on a recently discovered seam of sapphires.
The 941,000 acres of virgin rain forest of the Ankeniheny-Zahamena corridor, set aside to protect nation’s famed lemurs and dozens of other rare species, officially became a protected area late last year.
Then in April, sapphires were found, according to Agence France-Presse.
“We had an invasion of illegal miners in this park, which is our most recent protected area,” said Angelo Francois Randriambeloson of Madagascar’s ministry of environment.
The park has 2,043 identified species of plants; 85 percent are found nowhere else in the world. In addition, there are 15 species of lemurs, 30 other mammals, 89 types of birds and 129 kinds of amphibians. And that’s just what’s been discovered so far, according to the wire service.