Located off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean, the island of Madagascar is a living laboratory harboring some of the most unique plants and animals on earth. More than 90% of Madagascar's orchids are endemic to the island, and many are threatened with extinction. Beginning in June of 2012, Illinois College will begin a 5-year collaboration with specialists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, studying critically endangered orchids on this unique and beautiful island. This project is expected to involve Illinois College students, faculty and staff both on campus and in Madagascar.
One ultimate goal of this project is to meet the demands of the people of Madagascar who depend on these plants for income generation through a unique community partnership. Thus, Illinois College students that participate in this project are active in service learning.
In June 2012, researchers enjoyed a warm reception by local children in the Central Highlands.