MENABE, Madagascar — As the plane starts its descent toward Morondava, a city on Madagascar’s west coast, it crosses the Tsiribihina River. From here, almost all the way to Morondava 70 kilometers (44 miles) to the south, stretches the Menabe Antimena Protected Area, 2,100 square kilometers (812 square miles) of protected dry forest mixed with human activity.
I count 13 forest fires from my window, and another handful as we move into the protected area. As the plane descends further, the air suddenly thickens with smoke. For a few minutes, it’s a white-out. The flight steward confirms it is atmospheric pollution from the fires that have been raging for the past few months.