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Primatologist to lead Madagascar expedition




Toronto-based primatologist-explorer Travis Steffens has been sorting gear for a five-person expedition in Madagascar. Steffens, the executive director of Planet Madagascar, a non-profit organization, will lead a 220-kilometre conservation-oriented trek around Ankarafantsika National Park starting June 28. 
He will fly into the island-country in about one week to make final preparations. Over fifteen days on the ground, the team will hike through rough country along the perimeter of Ankarafantsika National Park. This is a flag expedition under the auspices of the Explorers' Club. 
Steffens, who did his PhD research in the park, and who is incidentally my son-in-law (full disclosure), says he is “very excited to find some lemurs.” The trek will “provide baseline information on species occurrence,” he says, and ascertain local perceptions of forest loss with a view to informing decision making. It will also increase awareness about conservation around the park.
Steffens hopes to introduce Planet Madagascar to people in the most remote communities – to provide information on fire management and share practices that Planet Madagascar has implemented in other areas of the park. 

“We will be setting up a way to follow along,” Steffens says. “So stay tuned.”
The expedition is funded by Primate Conservation Inc., Lemur Conservation Action Fund (SOS – Save Our Species) and conservationist Duane Sharman. Two of the five team members are Malagasy residents and employees of Planet Madagascar Association. 


Ken McGoogan
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Before turning mainly to books about arctic exploration and Canadian history, Ken McGoogan worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, from Dawson City to Dartmouth, and in places as different as Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Hobart.