Ameenah Gurib-Fakim: researcher, first female president, strong voice for conservation in Indian Ocean biodiversity hotspot

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, a biodiversity researcher and one of the few women from her country to study science, became the first female president of Mauritius, a tiny island that lies off the coast of Madagascar.

“It’s a big privilege for me to be working in one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world, the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean,” says Gurib-Fakim in her TED talk.

As a biodiversity researcher who focuses on medicinal properties of plants she has a keen understanding of the necessity to protect the diversity of plants on Mauritius and elsewhere. “Our health and our survival are closely linked to the health and resilience of our ecosystem and why we should be very careful about preserving biodiversity. Every time a forest is cut down, every time a marsh is filled in, it is a potential lab that goes with it and which we will never, ever recover.”

“We tend to overlook the diversity and variety of the natural world.” says Gurib-Fakim, “These particular habitats are unique and they are a host to a whole lot of plants. We don’t realize how precious and valuable these resources are. And yet, we keep on destroying them. We are all familiar with the macro-impact of urbanization, climate change,
resource exploitation. But when that one last plant or animal, when that very last specimen has disappeared
from the earth.”

She is also keenly aware of the importance of these biodiversity hotspots to the world’s most vulnerable people, “The 25 biodiversity in the world [now 35], 1.4% of the entire land surface, provide for 35% of the ecosystem services that vulnerable people depend upon.”

Watch Gurib-Fakim’s TED talk to learn more about the Madagascar and Indian Ocean biodiversity hotspots:

Featured Photo “Mauritius” by Clément Larher
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

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