Madagascar: stunning wildlife, landscapes, and cultural diversity
WildMadagascar.org highlights Madagascar's stunning wildlife, landscapes, and cultural diversity.
Madagascar is a land like no other. An island roughly the size of Texas or France, Madagascar is home to more than 250,000 species of which 70% are found nowhere else on the globe.
Geography: Madagascar can be divided into five geographical regions: the east coast, the Tsaratanana Massif, the central highlands, the west coast, and the southwest. The highest elevations parallel the east coast, whereas the land slopes more gradually to the west coast. Geography of Madagascar
Culture: are of the past; where in many areas taboo and tradition takes precedence over the law; and western-style religion is freely mixed with beliefs in sorcery and unparalleled funerary customs. The People of Madagascar
Plant biodiversity: Madagascar is home to as many as 12,000 plant species -- 70-80% of which are endemic -- making it one of the most diverse floras on the planet. Flora of Madagascar.
Animal biodiversity: Madagascar has some of the highest biodiversity on the planet. Of roughly 200,000 known species found on Madagascar, about 150,000 are endemic. Unique to the island are more than 50 types of lemurs, 99 percent of its frog species, and 36 genera of birds. Madagascar houses 100 percent of the world's lemurs, half of its chameleon species, 6 percent of its frogs, and none of its toads. Some species found in Madagascar have their closest relatives not in Africa but in the South Pacific and South America. Wildlife of Madagascar.
Madagascar NewsNewly described gecko from Madagascar a master of disguise (September 14, 2023)
- Madagascar is a hotspot for gecko diversity, and the latest to appear on the tree of life is Uroplatus garamaso.
- U. garamaso, with a length of 8.3-13.9 cm (3.3-5.5 in), is one of the larger leaf-tailed lizards inhabiting the island, but is still a master at hiding in plain sight.
- The gecko’s known range is restricted to the forests in the north of the island: Montagne des Français, Montagne d’Ambre, and Ankarana in the Diana region.
Can land titles save Madagascar’s embattled biodiversity and people? (August 14, 2023)
- Through its Titre Vert or Green Title initiative, the Malagasy government is opening up a path to land ownership for its most vulnerable citizens in the hopes it will help tackle hunger, internal migration, and forest loss.
- The state is using the initiative to lean on potential migrants to remain in the country’s deep south, where five years of failed rains have left 2 million people hungry, instead of migrating north, where they are often blamed for social tensions and for destroying forests.
- This March, the Malagasy government started work on a Titre Vert enclave in the Menabe region, a popular destination for migrants from the drought-hit south, to dissuade them from clearing unique dry forests to grow crops.
- Critics say the government is holding people back in a rain-starved region without providing enough support; in Menabe, backers of the project hope to provide ample assistance to get migrants out of the forests and onto their feet.
Madagascar signs new ‘sustainable’ tuna deal with the EU (August 7, 2023)
- In late June, Madagascar and the European Union struck a new four-year deal allowing fishing vessels flagged to EU countries to resume harvesting tuna in Madagascar’s waters after an unusual four-and-a-half-year gap.
- The EU says the deal benefits Madagascar by providing key funding to support fisheries governance, and civil society groups praised the Madagascar government for creating a more inclusive and transparent negotiating process than in the past.
- However, critics contend that the deal offers little benefit to the citizens of Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world, and enables European vessels to exacerbate the overfishing of Indian Ocean tuna stocks.
Villagers turn to charcoal made from bamboo to save a protected forest in Madagascar (July 7, 2023)
- Rice paddies have become silted up around Ankarafantsika National Park in northwestern Madagascar. To survive, local residents are forced to illegally exploit the forest’s natural resources.
- To reduce their dependency on the forest, local communities are planting the versatile bamboo species from Asia to make charcoal and restore watersheds.
- Although the exotic bamboo species can be used to protect the forest and watersheds, scientists raise concerns about the ecological impacts of its use.
Fire imperils Madagascar’s baobabs: Q&A with park director Diamondra Andriambololona (July 3, 2023)
- Kirindy Mite forest is a unique ecosystem that is home to three of Madagascar’s six endemic species of baobab trees.
- The forest is facing increasing anthropogenic pressure, especially from bushfires.
- Mongabay spoke with Diamondra Andriambololona, the director of Kirindy Mite National Park in southwestern Madagascar and the nearby Andranomena Special Reserve, about how the increase in fires is affecting the region’s unique forest and what is being done to reduce them.
- “The pressures on the forest will continue to increase as long as the people remain poor,” says Andriambololona.
Extreme reforestation: Baobab planters confront fires, loggers, cattle and more (June 6, 2023)
- In Madagascar, the August-to-December bushfire season wreaks havoc on the southwest and west of the island.
- Dry Forest, a young Malagasy NGO, is attempting an extreme form of reforestation to save the forest in Kirindy Mite National Park.
- In addition to the bushfires, the NGO faces many other challenges linked to local poverty.
Fish deaths near Rio Tinto mine in Madagascar dredge up community grievances (May 16, 2023)
- In March 2022, following the release of wastewater from the Rio-Tinto-owned QMM mine in southeastern Madagascar, thousands of fish turned up dead in neighboring lakes, sparking protests and a government investigation.
- Civil society groups say the mine’s effluent enters neighboring water bodies with alarming regularity, endangering people’s health and robbing them of their livelihoods, and that the mining company is doing little to better the lives of Malagasy people most impacted by its activities.
- The company says it is not responsible for the fish deaths and is providing water and aid to improve relations with local people.
- “If they want to maintain good relations, the first thing to do is not release untreated wastewater into the potable water of villagers,” Tahiry Ratsiambahotra, a Malagasy activist, told Mongabay.
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