Wildlife of Madagascar

Logging crisis pushes Madagascar’s forests on to UNESCO’s Danger List

UNESCO’s World Heritage committee has added Madagascar’s unique tropical forests to its Danger List of threatened ecosystems.

The move comes following a drawn-out illegal logging crisis that has seen loggers and traders infiltrating the island-nation’s national parks for rosewood. Bushmeat hunting of lemurs and other rare species also accompanied the crisis

Ring-tailed lemur (from Wikipedia)

Wildlife in Madagascar – photo site showcasing Madagascan wildlife

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. Madgascar houses 100 percent of the world’s lemurs, half of its chameleon species, 6 percent of its frogs, and none of its toads

Wildlife of Madagascar – Wikipedia

The island has been isolated for about 70 million years. Because of this, a very high proportion of the plants and animals are endemic, occurring nowhere else in the world. Many species are related to those found in mainland Africa but others have Asian affinities. A few are related to species found in South America and the South Pacific, relics of the time when these landmasses formed part of Gondwanaland.

Malagasy fauna

Prior to the arrival of humans about 2,000 years ago there were many large and unusual animals living there, descended from species that were originally present when Madagascar became an island, or from species that later crossed the sea to Madagascar. Ecological niches were often filled by animals with quite different histories from those on the African mainland, often leading to convergent evolution. A large proportion of these endemic Malagasy animals have died out since the arrival of humans, most particularly the megafauna.

Despite this, and massive deforestation, Madagascar is still home to an incredible array of wildlife, the vast majority of which is unique in the world.

Malagasy biodiversity

Smaller than Texas, Madagascar is home to a prodigious diversity of fauna and flora more varied than that of all of North America. Some researchers estimate that there are over 12,000 distinct plant species — 80 percent of which are found nowhere else on the planet. This section is a snapshot of some of that amazing ecological diversity

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