By Kame Westerman. Each year, university students from Tulear travel for two weeks along the southwest coast of Madagascar to visit conservation programs and see what is working well on the ground. This last weekend, twenty students (including four from neighbouring Comoros) and two professors visited Andavadoaka for a day to learn about Blue Ventures’ programs, and to hear about the successes and challenges of the locally managed protected area, Velondriake. This group of students is focusing on ecotourism and were particularly interested in learning about the financial sustainability of Blue Ventures and Velondriake through tourism in Andavadoaka.
Since its inception, Blue Ventures has partnered with the University of Tulear’s marine science program (Institut Halieutique et des Science Marines – IHSM) to provide research internships and practical fieldwork for students; several alumni have gone on to work for Blue Ventures. In 2008, the president of the Velondriake Association, Mr. Roger Samba, was awarded the J. Paul Getty Award for leadership in conservation. Mr. Samba used the prize money to create a scholarship programme for promising Malagasy students of marine science to study at the IHSM.