Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler writes about his expose into rosewood logging in the aftermath of Madagascar’s coup in 2009.Andry Rajoelina, the man who took power after the coup and was linked by NGOs to illegal rosewood trafficking, is running in Madagascar’s election next week.Back in 2010, Rajoelina had harsh words for Mongabay after it reported on his administration’s ties to the rosewood business.This post is insider content, which is available to paying subscribers. It is easy to forget that change starts with one person. In a world that is increasingly connected through mobile phones and the internet, especially social media, it is easier than ever before for someone with an idea to spread it rapidly around the world. My website, Mongabay.com, has served as a conduit for disseminating these messages and having an impact. One of the best examples comes from my favorite place to visit: Madagascar. Madagascar is renowned for its biological richness. Located off the eastern coast of southern Africa and slightly larger than California, the island has an eclectic collection of plants and animals, more than 80 percent of which are found nowhere else in the world. Baobab trees in Western Madagascar. Photo by Rhett A. Butler. Madagascar is home to such evolutionary oddities as the fossa, a carnivorous mammal that looks like a cross between a puma and a dog but is closely related to the mongoose; the indri, a cat-sized lemur whose haunting song resembles that of the humpback whale; the sifaka, a lemur that “swears” rudely but moves across open ground like a ballet dancer; brilliantly colored chameleons and day geckos; and cryptic leaf-tailed geckos, which are nearly impossible to distinguish from bark or moss. It has baobab trees that look like they’ve been planted upside down; the rosy periwinkle, a delicate flower used to cure pediatric leukemia and Hodgkin’s disease; and an entire desert ecosystem consisting of just spiny plants, none of which are cacti. Accordingly, scientists have made the island, dubbed the Eighth Continent, a top conservation priority. But Madagascar’s biological bounty was besieged in 2009 following a political crisis that saw its president chased into exile at gunpoint; a collapse in its civil service, including its park management system; and evaporation of donor funds that provide half the government’s annual budget. In the absence of governance, organized gangs ransacked the island’s biological treasures, including precious hardwoods and endangered lemurs from protected rainforests, and frightened away tourists, who provide a critical economic incentive for conservation.