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

Study: Climate impacts to disproportionately hurt tropical fishers, farmers (July 15, 2022)

- The majority of 72 coastal communities studied in five countries in the Indo-Pacific region may face significant losses of agricultural and fisheries products — two key food sources — simultaneously under the worst-case climate change projections, a new study shows.
- These potential losses may be coupled with other drivers of change, such as overfishing or soil erosion, which have already caused declining productivity, the study adds.
- But if carbon emissions can be effectively managed to a minimum, the study’s authors say, fewer communities would experience losses in both the agriculture and fisheries sectors, indicating the importance of climate mitigation measures.
- The current global average temperature is 1.1°C (2°F) above pre-industrial times, and climate experts have warned that it could climb to about 3°C (5.4°F) higher by the end of this century if nothing changes.

On hazardous mine tailings dams, ‘safety first’ should be the rule (commentary) (July 6, 2022)

- A mine tailings dam in Madagascar has failed at least twice this year, sending hazardous wastewater into a lagoon relied on by locals for drinking and subsistence fishing, killing hundreds of fish.
- Rio Tinto refuses to accept responsibility for the fish or water pollution, and this is not an isolated incident: tailings dams are failing with increasing frequency and severity all over the world.
- “Safety First” is a new set of guidelines toward more responsible tailings storage that prioritizes safety over cost, which companies and investors should heed, a new op-ed argues.
- This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Murky provenance of a Chinese fleet clouds Madagascar shrimp fishery (May 11, 2022)

- Thirty-nine trawlers are licensed to catch up to 4,170 metric tons of shrimp in Madagascar’s waters during the 2022 campaign, which officially began on March 1.
- Chinese-owned company Mada Fishery, which holds eight exploration rights did not apply to catch shrimp this year, and its eight vessels are now sitting idle.
- Three of the vessels were previously engaged in fishing violations in the Gambia, and under Malagasy law should not be eligible to fish in Madagascar now — unless there’s been a change in their ownership.
- But a murky document trail and general lack of transparency into the vessels’ ownership makes it unclear whether that has happened; transparency advocates say the implementation of simple measures would have made a significant difference in the investigation of Mada Fishery.

Deforestation-neutral mining? Madagascar study shows it can be done, but it’s complicated (May 11, 2022)

- The Ambatovy mine in Madagascar achieved no net forest loss by curbing deforestation in its biodiversity offsets, an analysis in the journal Nature Sustainability concluded.
- Project developers create biodiversity offsets, sites where they undertake conservation work, to make up for environmental destruction caused by their extractive operations.
- Ambatovy, which operates an open-pit nickel mine in Madagascar, carved out four biodiversity offsets to make up for biodiversity loss in its mining site, located in the species-rich eastern rainforest of the island nation.
- By slowing deforestation in these four offsets, the mine made up for forest loss in its mining concession; however, there isn’t enough data to ascertain how the measures impacted biodiversity, and previous research indicates that the mine’s offsets reduced impoverished communities’ access to forest resources.

Madagascar’s insistence on using seized rosewood rattles conservationists (March 29, 2022)

- Since CITES banned the global trade of Malagasy rosewood in 2013, the country has faced a dilemma: what to do with the illegally harvested timber in government custody?
- This month Madagascar proposed using seized rosewood, which it claims is secure, domestically, effectively removing it from CITES oversight.
- Though the plan concerns a small fraction of the stockpile, it could set a dangerous precedent, opening the door for the remaining timber to be unlawfully funneled into the global market and drive illegal logging, anti-trafficking campaigners said.
- The proposal came up for discussion at the CITES standing committee meeting this March, but CITES parties are expected to reach a decision at the next summit in November.

‘Small-scale fishers have a Ph.D. in the ocean’: Q&A with Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy (March 8, 2022)

- Traditional fishers along Madagascar’s coastline are grappling with falling fish stocks, cyclones, and competition from industrial trawlers, mostly owned by foreigners.
- In an attempt to better manage the country’s marine wealth and secure local fishers’ rights, communities banded together to form Mihari, a network of locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) that leans heavily on traditional ocean knowledge.
- As Mihari’s national coordinator for six years Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy supported a campaign to reserve fishing areas for small scale fishers and helped create a space for women to fully participate in decision-making.
- She spoke with Mongabay recently about the challenges facing fishing communities, their depth of marine knowledge, and the prospects for securing their fishing rights.

Two storms in two weeks carve trail of death and destruction in Madagascar (February 7, 2022)

- Batsirai, a category 4 cyclone, struck Madagascar’s eastern coast on Feb. 5, leaving 10 people dead.
- The island nation is still recovering from another tropical storm, Ana, which made landfall on Jan. 22 and left dozens dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.
- Data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that 12 storms of category 4 or 5, the highest level, made landfall on Madagascar between 1911; of these 12, eight occurred since 2000.

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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