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

In Madagascar, beekeepers persist in the face of fires and forest loss (January 5, 2022)

- The Anjozorobe Angavo forest corridor is one of the few remaining primary forests in the Central Highlands of Madagascar.
- Home to a number of rare and endemic species, this primary forest is undergoing a rapid decline, driven primarily by fires.
- In hopes of alleviating the problem, an NGO and a honey company are collaborating to train farmers in apiculture, with the aim of providing them with a stable income and an alternative livelihood that does not involve destroying the forest.
- However, this beekeeping project is threatened by the rapid decline of trees that are vital for the survival of bees.

Changes to Madagascar’s trawling sector raise questions and hopes (December 29, 2021)

- Madagascar’s auction for nearshore trawling licenses has elicited concern from civil society members, who say it was not conducted transparently and opens the door for environmental mismanagement.
- Two Chinese-backed firms won nearly half of the fishing licenses. One of them has brought in vessels that were caught fishing illegally in West Africa last year, and the other, which was already fishing in Madagascar, may have violated a national fishing regulation this year.
- But observers have also welcomed other aspects of Madagascar’s fisheries management overhaul this year.
- These include the creation of the Ministry of Fisheries and the Blue Economy, the appointment of scientist and civil society member as the new minister and the joining of FiTI, a global fisheries transparency initiative.

Madagascar’s small fishers cheer new trawl-free zone, but do trawlers obey it? (December 28, 2021)

- Madagascar in July imposed a prohibition on industrial trawlers fishing in waters within 2 nautical miles (3.7 kilometers) of the country’s coast.
- Small-scale fishers, who for years have clashed with the industrial vessels, welcomed the new rule, but say the trawlers are largely ignoring it.
- Vessel-tracking data appear to corroborate their claims, with at least 14 trawlers apparently fishing in the prohibited zone along the west coast in recent months.
- An industry executive said that any incursions by his company were uncommon and accidental. Regulators say penalties will be imposed based on the severity of the violations.

Kenya court orders return of $13m in seized rosewood to suspected traffickers (December 28, 2021)

- In November, a Kenyan court ordered the release of 646 metric tons of Malagasy rosewood (Dalbergia spp.), worth up to $13 million, to a Hong Kong-based company from which it had been seized in 2014 by Kenyan authorities.
- Lawyers for the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), which filed a case against the consignment owners, argued that trade in rosewood was banned under CITES, the international wildlife trade convention; however, the judge in the case disagreed.
- Juan Carlos Vasquez, who heads the legal affairs unit of CITES, confirmed to Mongabay that Malagasy rosewood was listed in Appendix II of the international convention on June 12, 2013.
- Since trade in Malagasy rosewood is banned under CITES today, legally moving the wood out of Mombasa will be tricky for the defendants; conservationist Chris Morris says the company is using false documentation to ship the rosewood from Kenya to Taiwan.

‘Unprecedented’ fires in Madagascar national park threaten livelihoods and lemurs (December 23, 2021)

- Ankarafantsika National Park protects an oasis of dry forest in northern Madagascar, providing vital habitat to critically endangered lemurs and other wildlife.
- In September and October, fires raged across the southern portion of the park, burning more than 40 square kilometers (15 square miles).
- While fire is a natural part of Ankarafantsika’s ecosystems, researchers say fire on this scale is “unprecedented” and amounting to a “conservation crisis.”
- The fires are also drying out the landscape and reducing neighboring communities’ crop yields, which conservationists warn could have knock-on effects for nearby forests as people turn to natural resources to survive.

New flavor of vanilla farming aims to stop deforestation in Madagascar (December 21, 2021)

- Madagascar is the world’s biggest producer of vanilla, with the plant grown in agroforestry systems established in forests or on fallow lands.
- Conservationist Andriamanana Rabearivelo introduced a new technique of vanilla cultivation with promising early results.
- His goal is to develop new agricultural methods to help the impoverished rural community near his farm in eastern Madagascar improve its conditions so it can reduce its reliance on the area’s natural forests.
- These forests are subject to runaway deforestation from the illegal harvest of timber and conversion to agricultural land.

Madagascar gemstone rush puts a wetland and its community under pressure (December 14, 2021)

- The discovery of gemstones near Madagascar’s largest wetland has fueled a mining boom that threatens the environment and the local community.
- The rural commune of Andilana Avaratra has seen its population nearly double as miners flock there from across Madagascar in search of beryl, a mineral family that includes gems like aquamarine.
- The mining activity, none of it permitted, has scarred a hill and threatens to wash large volumes of sediment into Lake Alaotra, a Ramsar Site that’s home to unique and endangered species.
- The miners’ presence has also led to a surge in crime and sexually transmitted diseases, with the local community seeing little in the way of benefits from the boom.

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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