Pat Shingleton Column: "Blood Rivers"
As noted in a previous column, ABC World News Tonight presented a series entitled "Key to the World, " focusing a segment on Madagascar. This coastal, African island, has some of the rarest species in the world where 90% of the wildlife exists nowhere else. When it rains in the community of Antananarivo, erosion turns rivers the color of blood. It occurs because of a process familiar to sugar cane farmers of Louisiana many years ago: slash and burn farming. Locals cut trees, burn it slow and sell it as charcoal, wiping out most of the forests; reduced to bare red earth. Conservationists have now protected the remaining land for tourism, and the mining of ilmenite, used to make sunscreen, house paint and dashboards, brings $120 a ton.