A Malagasy law enforcement officer was hacked to death by a mob during a confrontation over illegal logging 150 kilometers (93 miles) from the capital, Antananarivo, on Jan. 20. Two civilians were killed when another officer fired into the crowd. The deadly encounter spotlights risks faced by those safeguarding some of the world’s most precious forests in a country where the grip of law and order is tenuous. Lahatra Rahajaharison. Image courtesy of Groupement Alaotra-Mangoro. Lahatra Rahajaharison, 41, a chief warrant officer with the gendarmerie, and three others had gone to the village of Amparibolana to arrest suspected illegal loggers when they were ambushed. The village in Madagascar’s northeastern Alaotra-Mangoro region borders a community-managed forest. Madagascar, a megadiverse island off Africa’s eastern coast, has hemorrhaged forests in recent decades. It lost 7,000 square kilometers (2,700 square miles) of forests in just 14 years, from 2004-17, according to a recent WWF report. With much of its woodland outside the bounds of legal protection, community management is often put forth as a desirable conservation strategy. At the front line of the struggle to preserve its natural riches, but at the lowest rung of the enforcement apparatus, are forest guards and law enforcement officers like Rahajaharison. While communities conduct forest patrols, they cannot arrest violators and have to rely on the gendarmerie, a military arm responsible for internal security. Attempts to self-regulate sometimes spark tensions within communities, many of which have traditionally relied on forests for everything from firewood to food. The regional office…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer