Madagascar: stunning wildlife, landscapes, and cultural diversity 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 News

Lost bird found: Dusky tetraka seen in Madagascar after 24-year absence (March 7, 2023)

- The dusky tetraka, a small yellow songbird that had eluded ornithologists for 24 years, has been found again in the tropical forests of northeastern Madagascar.
- The bird was found at a lower elevation than expected, in thick underbrush near a river. The team plans to search for the dusky tetraka again during the breeding season to learn more about its ecology and biology.
- The dusky tetraka is listed as one of the top 10 most-wanted lost birds, an initiative that aims to locate bird species that have not been seen and recorded for a minimum of 10 years.
- More than 90% of the species found in Madagascar are endemic, with the island yielding at least 150 new-to-science species in the last 30 years.

Top 15 species discoveries from 2022 (Photos) (December 29, 2022)

- A resplendent rainbow fish, a frog that looks like chocolate, a Thai tarantula,  an anemone that rides on a back of a hermit crab, and the world’s largest waterlily are among the new species named by science in 2022.
- Scientists estimate that only 10% of all the species on the planet have been described. Even among the most well-known group of animals, mammals, scientists think we have only found 80% of species.
- Unfortunately, many new species of plants, fungi, and animals are assessed as Vulnerable or Critically Endangered with extinction.
- Although a species may be new to science, it may already be well known to locals and have a common name. For instance, Indigenous people often know about species long before they are “discovered” by Western Science.

Some tree-dwelling primates may adapt more easily to life on the ground, massive study shows (December 2, 2022)

- As deforestation and climate change alter rainforest habitats, monkeys and lemurs that normally live in trees are risking encounters with predators to spend time on the ground.
- Species with diverse diets, smaller body masses, and larger group sizes may adjust to terrestrial life more successfully than others.
- The huge international study drew from more than 150,000 hours of observations of 47 species in Madagascar and Central and South America.

Will CITES finally act to protect rosewood this month? (commentary) (November 4, 2022)

- CITES COP-19 starts in mid-November 2022 and is likely going to be a decisive meeting for the protection of species such as rosewood.
- Both CITES and Madagascar have banned the export of rosewood and ebony, but there appears to be no end to the illegal trade, and the fate of nearly 40,000 illegally-exported rosewood logs seized in Singapore, Kenya and Sri Lanka in 2014 is still uncertain.
- Action is needed at COP-19 to protect such stockpiles of seized rosewood from being sold, and for the remaining Malagasy rosewood and ebony trees to be protected before they are all gone, a new op-ed argues.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

In Madagascar, a tree-planting business goes long on social, short on eco (October 10, 2022)

- Bôndy, a young Malagasy company, has social-impact tree planting at the heart of its “business model.”
- Bôndy makes money by offering social and environmental responsibility solutions to other companies, by planting trees on farmers’ land on their behalf.
- Although it has only been operating since 2018, the company’s model is proving successful with both the rural people receiving tree-planting services and the companies financing the projects.
- Some conservationists, however, are skeptical about the environmental impacts of Bôndy’s approach, which focuses mainly on planting non-native acacia and eucalyptus trees that can be cut for fuel and timber, as well as fruit trees.

World’s smallest primate is fading into extinction, scientists fear (September 29, 2022)

- The Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae) could soon disappear as the human imprint on its forest habitat in western Madagascar grows.
- Another team of researchers warned that the Milne-Edwards’s sifaka (Propithecus edwardsi), a species native to the tropical rainforests of eastern Madagascar, could vanish in 25 years.
- “The risk of extinction accelerates dramatically when we take into account deforestation and climate extremes,” said Eric Isai Ameca y Juárez, a specialist in biodiversity loss and climate change at Beijing Normal University, but added that deforestation alone could wipe out the sifaka.
- About a third of the tree cover inside Menabe Antimena National Park, where the Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur is found, has disappeared since 2015.

Eight new-to-science geckos described from biodiversity haven Madagascar (September 15, 2022)

- Scientists have described eight new-to-science species of geckos from Madagascar, all about the length of your thumb.
- They were elevated to species level following DNA studies of what was, for decades, thought to be a single species group of dwarf gecko, Lygodactylus madagascariensis. They add there could be up to 18 distinct genetic lineages.
- Scientists have found and named at least 150 new-to-science species from Madagascar in the last 30 years, and are still finding more nearly every year. More than 90% of species in Madagascar are endemic, meaning they’re found nowhere else on Earth.
- Given ongoing threats to the forests and ecosystems in Madagascar, scientists say we may not be finding and naming species quickly enough to know what’s being lost.

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