In November and December of 2009 Roger took part in a biodiversity survey of the last remaining dry monsoonal forest of east Africa. This expedition was part of an ongoing series of expeditions forming the program "La Planete Revisitee".
This is a French initiative organised by Pro-Natura International and the French Musee Nationale d'Histoire Naturelle, to survey and promote the conservation of some of the last remaining important ecosystems around the world. In a bush camp in northern Mozambique Roger spent 5 weeks in the company of some 40 scientists and support staff exploring the forest, collecting and documenting the unique flora and fauna. This unique area of dry forest has been protected from exploitation by many years of regional conflict -and the presence of extensive uncharted minefields which have only recently been cleared.
Surveying the area, identifying undisturbed forest and trying to promote its conservation is a priority as slash and burn agriculture by the extremely poor local population is moving rapidly into the area. Following this terrestrial work Roger spent several weeks accompanied by photographer Xavier Desmier portraying a reef site, completing a large underwater drawing near Vamizi Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago of northern Mozambique. This region is extremely rich in coral with clear waters offshore and has a fish fauna very similar to that of north-western Australia, mainly Indo-Pacific species with some regional endemics. Particularly encouraging here was that the local population, who live almost completely by subsistence fishing have agreed to set areas aside as no-take zones to preserve diversity and stocks of target species.
That some of the poorest people in the world, who depend totally on this resource to live, have taken this decision is a humbling thought. Particularly when considering the difficulty of establishing such zones in Australia in the face of opposition from groups who wish to exploit marine resources purely for pleasure or profit.
In May/June 2010 Roger Swainston took part in an extensive survey of the marine life of southern Madagascar.
Organised by the French "Musee Nationale d'Histoire Naturelle" this survey was also part of the program "La Planete Revisitee", a French initiative to survey and promote the conservation of some of the last remaining important and poorly known ecosystems around the world. Roger spent three weeks aboard the purpose built research vessel "Antea", based in Fort Dauphin and working in the inshore waters around the south-east corner of Madagascar.
Accompanied by a team of 7 scientists he carried out extensive underwater photography, observation and collecting, diving several times a day in these largely unexplored waters. He also carried out numerous detailed drawings and paintings of specimens collected. The work posed numerous challenges, underwater conditions were difficult with often near zero visibility and strong surge and currents to contend with. Drawing detailed portraits of specimens aboard the pitching and rolling "Antea' was also a real challenge. However the overall expedition was a great success.
Running over several months and covering the entire southern coast of Madagascar, many new species of molluscs and crustaceans were recorded, including a new species of Giant Clam, as well as several new fish species. Often appalling conditions prevented surveying many areas so a great deal remains to be discovered in this fascinating region.