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Wildlife and Flora

Exploring Madagascar’s Unique Wildlife and Flora: A Guide

Madagascar’s Wildlife and Plant Life: Overview

The Wildlife of Madagascar

Madagascar has an amazing variety of unique wildlife and plants. The island is home to around 80% of species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. One of the most famous animals from Madagascar is the chameleon, known for its ability to change color. Many different types of chameleons live on the island, making it a popular destination for tourists who want to see these fascinating creatures in action.

In addition to chameleons, Madagascar also has many endemic bird species, as well as mammals like lemurs. The Aye-aye lemur is a particularly rare and unusual animal with rabbit-like teeth, monkey-like hands, and other distinctive features. Unfortunately, this species is at risk of disappearing if steps aren’t taken to protect it.

Visitors can see other unique species in protected areas across the island, such as the Indri Indri lemur and the Hapalemur aureus lemur. These areas provide opportunities for people to observe and appreciate Madagascar’s extraordinary biodiversity firsthand.

Some reptiles found in Madagascar

– Madagascar is home to a variety of unique reptiles.
– Some of the endemic reptiles found in Madagascar include chameleons, geckos, and snakes.
– These reptiles are only found in Madagascar and nowhere else in the world.
– The diverse habitats of Madagascar support a wide range of reptile species.

Subheading: Lizard

The Madagascar Lizard, scientifically known as Zonosaurus ornatus Gray, 1831, belongs to the Gerrhosauridae family and is found in the terrestrial savannah habitat of the Central-Eastern high plateau of Madagascar. It is an endemic species with an unknown conservation status.

Green Gecko

The Madagascar green gecko belongs to the Gekkonidae family. Its scientific name is Phelsuma Madagascariensis. It is an endemic species found in the East, West, and Northwest regions of Madagascar. In Malagasy, it is called Antsatsatra. This gecko is a large green diurnal lizard native to Madagascar.

Madagascar Boa – Essential Information

The Madagascar Tree Boa, also known as Mandotra or manditra in Malagasy, is a vulnerable species found in the eastern region of Madagascar. It belongs to the Boidae family and has the scientific name Sanzinia madagascariensis. This snake inhabits forests and trees throughout its distribution from the north to the south of Madagascar. Due to its vulnerable status, it is protected under CITES conservation regulations.

Madagascar’s Lemurs: A Brief Overview

The lemurs in Madagascar are the only place where they can be found. They include many different species such as sifakas, mouse lemurs, and ring-tailed lemurs. These animals are unique to Madagascar and are not found anywhere else in the world.

Red-bellied lemur

The Eulemur rubriventer, also known as Barimaso, is a primate with brownish-red fur and a dark gray to black tail. The males have red bellies, while the females have white bellies. They primarily feed on fruits, followed by flowers, leaves, and insects. These lemurs live in small family groups led by a dominant female. Unfortunately, their habitat in the East is being increasingly degraded due to human activities such as slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal tree cutting, charcoal production, and bushmeat hunting. As a result of these threats, the species is classified as endangered and vulnerable according to the IUCN 2014 assessment.

Crown Lemur: Simplifying the Subtitle

The Crowned lemur, also known as Komba, is a species of lemur with males having a distinct V-shaped mark on their head and females having an orange-colored V mark. They mainly eat fruits and leaves, and the mothers carry their babies under their belly for the first three weeks and nurse them for 5 to 6 months. These lemurs are polygamous and reach sexual maturity at around 20 months. However, they face threats from intense hunting by local populations in unprotected areas and habitat loss due to deforestation. As a result, the Crowned lemur is classified as endangered according to IUCN’s assessment in 2014.

Red-fronted lemur

The Red-fronted lemur, also known as Varika Mavo, is a primate found in the dry forests with deciduous trees in the Western region and the humid forests of the Southeast. These lemurs have distinct color differences based on gender. The males have gray fur with light yellowish hair around their face, while the females have reddish-brown fur with a stripe from their nose continuing over their forehead and above their head.

They are primarily fruit-eaters but also consume leaves, flowers, and insects. They live in groups without a clear dominance hierarchy and breed in May, giving birth in September. The infants are carried across the mother’s hip and are weaned after about 135 days during times of abundant food.

Like other lemur species, they face threats from deforestation, bushfires, predators such as fossas and raptors, as well as humans with their cats and dogs. Their conservation status according to the IUCN in 2014 is “Near Threatened.

Blue-eyed lemur

The Eulemur flavifrons, also known as the Mangamaso, is a primate species with striking turquoise eyes. It is the only non-human species known to have blue eyes. The males have black fur while the females have a reddish coat. When born, the young ones have their mother’s reddish-brown fur and only develop black fur at around 6 weeks of age.

These lemurs are diurnal and primarily feed on fruits, followed by flowers and leaves. They typically live in groups of 6 to 10 individuals and can be found in gallery forests, deciduous dry forests, moderately humid forests, and even plantations within specific regions.

Unfortunately, their population is severely threatened, with only around 1000 individuals remaining in a very small area south of the Sambirano region. As a result, they are classified as critically endangered according to the IUCN’s 2014 assessment.

Simplified: Maki

The Maki of Madagascar, also known as Lemur catta, is a species of primate belonging to the Lemuridae family. The males have scent glands on their wrists and chest, as well as ano-genital scent glands. They are omnivores and live in groups with hierarchical structures. Their diet includes fruits, leaves, flowers, insects, and termites.

These lemurs face threats due to their habitat being located in fragile forest ecosystems that are sensitive to factors such as droughts, cyclones, human activities like hunting and deforestation. As a result, they are considered endangered according to the IUCN’s conservation status assessment in 2014.

The Maki de Madagascar or Lemur catta is an opportunistic omnivore living in groups with hierarchy. It inhabits fragile forest ecosystems susceptible to natural calamities and human activities.

Lemur Macaco: A Simple English Rephrase

The scientific name of the Black Lemur is Eulemur macaco. Its common name is Komba and belongs to the Lemuridae family. The males are completely black while the females are brown with a black head and white tufts. They can be distinguished from Eulemur flavifrons by the presence of tufts on their ears and orange eyes.

Black lemurs live in groups and mainly eat fruits, leaves, and flowers. They are active during the day but also move around at night, especially when there’s a full moon. The dominant female dictates the group’s activities. They use a wide range of calls and rely on their sense of smell and hearing to communicate.

Their territories vary from 5ha to 6ha, and reproduction occurs seasonally like other lemurs. Black Lemurs are found in moderately humid forests in Sambirano, neighboring islands, coffee plantations, and cashew nut plantations.

According to IUCN in 2014, Black Lemurs are considered threatened and vulnerable due to their habitat being affected by human activities such as deforestation for agriculture or logging.

Unusual Lemur Species: Aye-aye

The Aye-Aye is a unique animal found in Madagascar. It has a brown-grey speckled coat with white patches, large mobile ears, and a long bushy tail. Its big yellow and orange eyes are surrounded by dark rings, giving it an unusual appearance. The Aye-Aye feeds on larvae, insects, coconut, lychee seeds, mangoes, avocados, honey, and eggs. It has long fingers and claws for extracting food from trees or fruits.

This nocturnal creature makes its nests in branches and lives alone most of the time. Occasionally it comes down to the ground to look for food. When it reproduces, it can have one offspring every 2-3 years after a gestation period of 170 days.

The Aye-Aye faces threats due to habitat loss caused by deforestation, vegetation fires, farming practices like slash-and-burn agriculture as well as illegal hunting. In response to these threats, conservation measures such as protected areas have been established across Madagascar.

Its distribution covers a wide range along the east coast between Ampanefana and Andohahela in the north and south respectively; also in the west between Montagne d’Ambre in the north and Antsalova/Kirindy in the south. The Aye-Aye inhabits dense dry deciduous forests and humid forests.

There are zoos around the world that participate in conserving this species including Ueno (Japan), Omaha (USA), Duke Primate Center (USA), Jersey (UK), San Francisco (USA), Paris Zoo and London Zoo.

White-belted Lemur or Varikandana

The scientific name of this animal is Varencia variegata subsincta (E . Greffoy, 1812). It mainly eats fruit and plays a vital role in spreading seeds and pollinating plants. However, its existence is in critical danger as it lives in rainforests that are facing extensive destruction due to illegal tree cutting and a farming method called Tavy. As per the IUNC’s assessment in 2014, this species is classified as Critically Endangered.

Hapalémurs: Lemurs from Madagascar

The Hapalemurs, also known as bamboo lemurs, have a digestive system specially adapted to eating bamboo. There are different species of Hapalemurs:

– The Golden Bamboo Lemur was discovered in Ranomafana National Park in 1986.
– The Lac Alaotra Bamboo Lemur, also called the Bandro, is the only species that lives in reed beds and eats reeds instead of bamboo.
– The Greater Bamboo Lemur is the largest of the Hapalemur species.

All Hapalemurs are at risk of extinction due to habitat destruction.

Birds of Madagascar

The bird species in Madagascar are not as many as in other smaller countries, but a high percentage of them can only be found there. There are 107 out of 279 bird species that are unique to Madagascar and belong to five different families. Unfortunately, many of these birds are at risk of disappearing from certain areas and islands.

Here is a brief list of the types of birds you might see in Madagascar:

  • Endemic bird species
  • Birds facing extinction

Golden Pheasant

The Golden Pheasant, also known as the “Chrysolophus pictus,” is a bird native to Madagascar. The male has striking red plumage with a golden-yellow crest and a long speckled tail. In contrast, the female has a much paler brown coloration. These birds are often found in human habitats and zoos, although their natural habitat is in reforested savannas. They primarily feed on seeds, green plants, insects, larvae, and worms. During reproduction, the female typically lays 4 to 10 eggs.

The Sacred Ibis

The Madagascar Sacred Ibis, also known as Voronosy or Vorombengy in Malagasy, is a bird with a distinct black head and tail. Its long curved beak is a notable feature. This species is endemic to Madagascar and is classified as endangered. They inhabit various wetland areas such as lakes, marshes, rice fields, and especially mangroves along the West and South West coasts. The Madagascar Sacred Ibis feeds on invertebrates and small vertebrates including insects, larvae, frogs, earthworms, reptiles, and young birds. During reproduction, the female lays 1 to 3 eggs while both parents work together to feed the young birds.

Madagascar’s Partridge: A Unique Bird Species

The Madagascar partridge is a colorful bird with distinct features. The male has striking brown stripes and two white lines on its face, as well as black coloring on its throat. In contrast, the female is pale light brown in color. This species is only found in Madagascar and lives in natural habitats such as savannas and grassy areas. They primarily eat seeds, green plants, and small invertebrates like insects, larvae, and earthworms. When it comes to reproduction, the female lays 3 to 5 eggs in the grassy areas of Madagascar’s savannas and grasslands.

Madagascar’s Fish Eagle

The Madagascar Fish Eagle, also known as the Ankoay, is a large and endangered bird of prey native to Madagascar. It is often referred to as a fish eagle due to its diet of mainly fish and sometimes crabs. This impressive bird has a wingspan with wide wings and a short white tail. The male eagles are smaller, weighing around 3.5 kg, while the females are larger at about 5 kg. They can be found in the Great Lakes, rivers, and even frequent mangroves between Nosy Be and Andavadaoka on the west coast of Madagascar.

During reproduction, the female eagle typically lays 1 to 3 eggs; however, there is a phenomenon called Cainism where the older chick attempts to push its younger sibling out of the nest. The Madagascar Fish Eagle’s status as critically endangered adds urgency to conservation efforts for this magnificent species inhabiting such specific regions in Madagascar.

Bernier’s Teal: Essential Information

The Bernier’s Teal, also known as Sadakely or Mireha in Malagasy, is a bird species belonging to the Anatidae family. It is characterized by its pale brown color underneath and darker brown on top with a reddish border on all feathers. The wings have a large mirror that is half white and half greenish-black, bordered by a small whitish stripe. This bird, found in Madagascar, is vulnerable and endemic to the region.

Its habitat includes large lakes, marshes, rivers, and even mangroves. The Bernier’s Teal has an insectivore and herbivore diet.

During reproduction, the female lays 3 to 5 eggs in tree holes. This unique bird species plays an important role in the ecosystem of Madagascar due to its specific habitat requirements and diet preferences.

Guinea Fowl

The Helmeted Guineafowl is a bird from Africa that has been introduced to Madagascar. It has a black plumage with white spots, but some people are trying to breed new color variations by crossing them with roosters. These birds live in grassy savannas and wooded areas near forests, and they mainly eat seeds and green plants. The female guineafowl lays 6 to 10 eggs at a time.

Madagascar is also home to several other endemic bird species, each with its own unique characteristics and calls.

The plant life of Madagascar

Madagascar is home to a rich diversity of plants and animals. The flora alone boasts around 13,000 plant species, with approximately 80% of them being unique to the region. This includes a thousand varieties of orchids and 161 large shrubs, as well as six types of baobab trees such as the Grandidier’s Baobab and the Madagascar Baobab. Furthermore, there are still many undiscovered species within Madagascar’s wildlife and vegetation that continue to attract researchers from around the world.

The Flora of Madagascar

Madagascar Plant Atlas (Part I)

The first part of the Atlas of Plants of Madagascar covers a wide range of plant species, from Acanthaceae to Leg.-caesalp. Each photo in the atlas displays the family, genus, species, and reference for easy identification. For example, Zygophyllaceae’s entry includes information on Zygophyllum Depauperatum Drake_par_Lucile.

The Atlas offers a comprehensive look at various families and genera of plants found in Madagascar. It provides valuable reference points for those interested in studying or identifying these plant species. The clear layout and concise information make it an accessible resource for botanists and enthusiasts alike.

This detailed collection serves as a helpful guide for understanding and appreciating the diverse plant life that thrives in Madagascar. It presents the information in a visually appealing manner, making it engaging and informative for readers with an interest in botany or natural history.

Madagascar Plant Atlas (part II)

The Atlas of Plants Madagascar Part II covers a wide range of plant species found in Madagascar. It includes detailed information about each plant, from CAESALPINIA MADAGASCARIENSIS to ZYGOPHYLLUM DEPAUPERATUM Drake. The content is presented in a comprehensive and accessible format suitable for both researchers and enthusiasts. This resource provides valuable insights into the unique flora of Madagascar and serves as a valuable reference for anyone interested in the botanical diversity of this region.

References, sources, credits and acknowledgments:

The images of plants from Madagascar are part of the CD-Rom included in the book “Plantes de Madagascar, Atlas” by ALLORGE-BOITEAU Lucile, published by Ulmer editions. This book is a valuable resource for learning about the plants of Madagascar. The online version of the Dictionnaire des noms malgaches de végétaux, compiled by Pierre Boiteau and updated on ilerouge.org, is also available. The Fondation Tanimeva, Parc Botanique et Zoologique de Tsimbazaza (PBZT), and INTH and its teachers are additional sources for information on plants in Madagascar. The Office du Tourisme d’Antananarivo (ORTANAM) is another valuable contributor to this knowledge base. This information was last updated in June 2023.

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