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Madagascar News

Wolves of the microscopic world: new Dracula ant species found in Madagascar [11/18/2015]
- Researchers have discovered and described six new species of ants belonging to the genus Prionopelta.
- Commonly, known as ‘Dracula Ants’ for their unique feeding behavior, these new members of Prionopelta have been found to be tiny, ferocious social predators living in Madagascar.
- The research conducted on these ants is part of an ongoing effort to further understand, and educate others about, Malagasy biodiversity.

Singapore court: illicit timber trafficking through our ports not our problem [11/13/2015]
- In a decision that environmentalists say sets a "dangerous precedent" against efforts to stop trafficking in illegal timber, a court in Singapore has okayed the release of a large shipment of rosewood from Madagascar.
- The timber, which was seized by authorities in Singapore more than a year ago, was shipped despite both a national ban on such exports and a lack of permits.
- The decision rested on the argument that the shipment was in transit to Hong Kong and not intended for import to Singapore.

Mystery whale known only from specimens found living in the wild [11/03/2015]
- A handful of unusual whale specimens were recognized as a separate species called Omura's whale (Balaenoptera omurai) in 2003.
- Until now there have only been a few unconfirmed sightings of living Omura's whales.
- A new study describes 44 observations of the whales off northwestern Madagascar, providing the first confirmed description of living Omura's whales, including photos, videos, and audio recordings.

Partnerships are key to The Wildlife Conservation Society’s new conservation strategy [10/21/2015]
- WCS has identified 15 of the world’s largest wilderness regions and laid out a new strategy for how to protect them from climate change and other human-induced environmental pressures.
- The group hopes to reverse the population declines of six priority species across their entire range.
- Forest conservation experts reacted positively to the new strategy, saying many of the priority regions are indeed in urgent need of additional protection.

Scientists discover bird in Madagascar that evolved in reverse [10/12/2015]
- A team of scientists found multiple relatively old mitochondrial lineages of Spectacled Tetrakas living in the same location, making them suspect multiple species had merged back into one.
- Scientists with the Field Museum in Chicago sequenced the birds’ DNA and the mtDNA of their lice to determine that what they call “despeciation” had occurred.
- According to John Bates, associate curator of birds at the Field Museum, there might be some important lessons for conservationists in the team’s discovery.

Nature guide freed in Madagascar 5 months after arrest for exposing rosewood trade [09/25/2015]
- Armand Marozafy, a nature guide in Madagascar, has been freed after spending 5 months in prison.
- Marozafy had been arrested for 'defamation' for exposing two businessmen allegedly linked to illegal rosewood logging.
- Critics said Marozafy's arrest undermined Madagascar's ecotourism sector, while empowering illegal loggers.

2015 Equator Prize winners span 19 countries [09/21/2015]
- The United Nations today announced 21 winners of the 2015 Equator Prize, a prestigious award that recognizes community-led environmental initiatives.
- The winners, selected from a pool of 1,461 nominations across 126 countries, include a wide range of groups from around the world.
- The winners were announced during a ceremony hosted by actor Alec Baldwin

Activist arrested while illegal loggers chop away at Madagascar’s forests [09/15/2015]
- Last February, Armand Marozafy wrote an email to a foreign consultant alleging that two local businessmen were involved in various illegal activities near Masoala National Park, a vast rainforest threatened by poaching and illegal logging.
- After the email became public, Marozafy was arrested on defamation charges in April.
- He is serving a six-month prison sentence and has been ordered to pay a fine equivalent to three times the annual salary of a Malagasy school teacher.

5 African countries agree to combat illegal timber trade [09/10/2015]
- The governments of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar and Mozambique have agreed to work together to combat the illegal timber trade.
- Signatories include both timber source and transit countries.
- Data released Monday by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) showed that primary forest cover in sub-Saharan Africa declined by at least 6.3 million hectares over the past decade

Man starts record-breaking walk to protect one of the world’s rarest primates [09/02/2015]
- If successful, experienced trekker Ash Dykes will become the first person to walk the length of Madagascar.
- Along the way, Dykes will meet with conservation groups working to protect the island nation's threatened wildlife.
- Only around 50 northern sportive lemurs are thought to exist, largely due to heavy habitat loss from charcoal production.

Vacationing couple may have discovered a new dwarf lemur species [08/27/2015]
- A University of Kent conservation researcher and his spouse recently stumbled upon an unusual dwarf lemur on a Madagascar out island.
- The species, possibly new to science, exhibits dwarfism and tameness, characteristics common to remote species inhabiting small isolated islands.
- The discovery will require further investigation by researchers to determine if the lemur is a new species; and if it is unique, to observe and describe it.

A diamond in the marsh: Saving the Lake Alaotra Gentle Lemur [08/17/2015]
- Estimates in the 1990s put the number of Alaotra gentle lemurs at just 11,000 individuals. Today that number has dropped to below 2,500. It is the only primate to live constantly on water.
- The Alaotra wetlands are richly biodiverse, with Durrell’s Vontsira, a carnivorous mongoose-like mammal unknown to science discovered in 2004 — fewer than 465 of the animals are thought to remain.
- As Alaotra’s wetland habitat has dwindled, so too have its endangered species. However, conservation groups have had considerable success with local community based protection programs, holding out hope for these species.

Conservation win in Madagascar: 7 new reserves established [07/16/2015]
- Madagascar gets 7 new reserves located in its eastern rainforests.
- Reserves protect endangered lemurs, herps, and other species.
- Initiative led by Rainforest Trust and its local partner, Madagasikara Voakajy.

Sustainable conservation in the Ibity Massif: a new protected area in Madagascar [07/09/2015]
The rate of deforestation and species extinction are increasing worldwide, and substantial efforts are being made to establish new protected areas (NPAs), build local environmental organizations and improve management of new preserves.

Invasion of Poisonous Asian toad in Madagascar is a greater threat to biodiversity than previously thought [07/06/2015]
Invasive species are among the greatest threats to the world’s biodiversity, and amphibians rank among the most devastating vertebrate invaders. That’s why the discovery of the Asian toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in Madagascar’s second largest city and main port of Toamasina in March 2014 so alarmed conservationists.

Photos: periodic closure of fishing grounds boosts octopuses and helps coastal communities [06/17/2015]
For communities that depend on fishing for their livelihoods, fishing bans as a way to conserve marine life are not always popular. But some villages in southwest Madagascar seem to have hit upon a strategy to reap economic gains from bans. Temporarily closing down portions of their octopus-fishing areas every year not only helps villages revive declining octopus populations, but also generates more income for fishermen and fisherwomen, according to a new study.

Up to 11 stunningly colorful chameleon species discovered in Madagascar [05/26/2015]
The panther chameleon, a lizard prized in the pet trade for its remarkable color changing abilities, may actually represent 11 different species, report researchers writing in the journal Molecular Ecology. Analyzing the genetics of more than 300 individual panther chameleons, Swiss and Malagasy researchers make a case that different color morphs of Furcifer pardalis may be distinct species.

Borneo’s rainforest may get high-tech 3D scan to boost conservation [05/04/2015]
Conservation efforts in Borneo's embattled rainforest may get a boost with the launch of the newest version of an advanced airplane-based monitoring and assessment system. On Friday, the Carnegie Institution officially unveiled the latest upgrade of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, an airplane equipped with technologies that enable scientists to conduct extremely high resolution scans of forest structure, biomass, and biological diversity. The platform has generated a wealth of information in places where it has been flown before.

Innovative community fisheries initiative wins top social entrepreneurship prize [04/13/2015]
A program that helps restore overfished areas through community-based marine conservation has won the Skoll Foundation's top prize for social entrepreneurship. Today the Skoll announced Blue Ventures, which piloted its approach in Madagascar a decade ago before expanding to other regions, was one of four organizations to be honored with the $1.25 million Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

Chocolate company, NGO work together to save lemurs [03/30/2015]
Despite its biodiversity and unique plants and animals, Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve hosts only around a dozen tourists each year. In an effort to increase tourism and research opportunities, the Lemur Conservation Foundation will be using the money raised during the Madécasse promotion to develop Camp Indri - the reserve’s only authorized tourist site.

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  • Madagascar, 9th: The Bradt Travel Guide
  • Madagascar Wildlife, 3rd: A Visitor's Guide
  • Mammals of Madagascar: A Complete Guide
  • Madagascar Travel Pack
  • Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands
  • Birds of Madagascar: A Photographic Guide
  • Lonely Planet Madagascar & Comoros
  • The Natural History of Madagascar
  • Malagasy-English: Dictionary and Phrasebook
  • Lords and Lemurs
  • The Eighth Continent: Life, Death, and Discovery in the Lost World of Madagascar
  • The Aye-Aye and I : A Rescue Journey to Save One of the World's Most Intriguing Creatures from Extinction
  • Shadows in the Dawn: The Lemurs of Madagascar