Princess Anne has concluded a four day trip to Madagascar, where she carried out a number of engagements, including opening a new centre to help save endangered species of bird.
The Princess Royal was accompanied on the trip by her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence. A number of charities received the Princess on the trip, including ‘Save the Children’, some wildlife conservation schemes and the Duke of Edinburgh Gold International Award.
On the first day of the visit, The Queen’s daughter was greeted by The President of Madagascar, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, at Iavoloha Palace, where Princess Anne and the President exchanged gifts, and the Royal was presented with a framed map of Madagascar.
After the audience, The Princess Royal and The President presented The Duke of Edinburgh Gold International Youth Awards to young people at the palace. The Duke of Edinburgh award scheme was founded in 1956 by Prince Philip, and now spans across 144 nations including Madagascar.
Later that evening, the Princess represented the sovereign by attending a State Dinner hosted by President Rajaonarimampianina, where she made a speech noting the importance of good British-Madagascan relations.
The second day of the royal visit began with a trip to Feedback Madagascar’s Silk Project in Soatanana. The group is an organisation that creates sustainable projects in communities to help improve the management of natural resources. It aims to encourage development through sustainable means: ‘conservation and development hand in hand.’
The Princess Royal met with people who have benefited from the Silk Project, including residents who built their homes with proceeds made from the sale of the silk. Anne then planted a tree in a community managed woodland in Faliarivo.
Last year, Sir David Attenborough said: “Initiatives like this silk project bring hope for the future of Madagascar.” The project trains weavers, to help them set up a business in silk production, allowing them to earn a good living, while helping to conserve the surrounding forest.
The third day of the tour, the Princess, accompanied by Sir Tim, laid a wreath of poppies at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Diego Suarez Military Cemetery, which contains over 310 World War II graves and memorials.
Princess Anne’s husband is Vice-Chair of the CWGC.
Following this, in her capacity as patron of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Princess opened the Fotsimaso Interpretation Centre for the Madagascar pochard. The pochard duck is officially a critically endangered species and is one of the world’s rarest birds, with a wild population of less than 30 individuals. The species was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 2006, surviving on a lake. The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, an international charity aims to save the species and restore it to the wild.
This new centre aims to increase the species’ population even further. Last year the project celebrated the hatching of the 100th duckling – which has tripled the global population.
Anne’s visit to the charity marked eight years since the first ducklings hatched from the eggs collected from the wild.
“The next major phase of the programme is to release ducks back into the wild,” a spokeswoman for Durrell said. “A release site has been identified and the project partners have worked over the last three years to build a strong relationship with the communities using the lake.”
“As identified through an important research study, all of Madagascar’s wetlands are desperately degraded, missing much of their wildlife, especially the invertebrates that form the foundation of the food webs that support life. The partners are working hard with communities to ensure the release lake is protected and can be restored as a healthy wetland resource.”
The Princess seemed to be interested and engaged when being shown the ducklings by a conservationist.