The Republic of Madagascar is located off of the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Even though the population is less than that of New York City, it is still in a rapid decline of its natural species. Studies are showing that the natural animal inhabitants of the country are steadily becoming impacted by several factors, mostly human related, to the point of endangerment.
Of the many famous species of flora and fauna found on Madagascar, one of the most interesting is that of the Baobab tree. Madagascar has the most Baobab trees than anywhere else in the world, dotted along its plains. Just to be juxtaposed to what is left of its magnificent rain forests, packed with one of the Earths densest collections of evolutionary subspecies. Since the arrival of humans nearly 2000 years ago, many species of mega-fauna have become extinct, including but not limited to: the giant Fossas (whose now thriving cousin, the common Fossa, is One of Madagascar’s top predators), several species of elephant bird, and 17 different species of lemur, arguably Madagascar’s most famous and notable animal species.
One of the reasons Madagascar is so important to keep protected is because of its very unique flora and fauna. This island is home to some 300 species of frog, 99% of which are endemic (and also are interestingly thought to slow down the growth of cancer cells). Frogs are also the only amphibians to be found on Madagascar. The Fossa, the apex predator of the region that originally evolved from the mongoose family, feeds on the island’s unique Ring Tailed Lemur. The lemur, and in particular the Ring-Tailed Lemur, is the most notable and recognized species in this area, used as a big selling point in the Country’s tourism. Madagascar is also home to the Spiny Desert, an ominous looking tree that is coated in thorny spikes, and is one of nine species of tree that are endemic to this particular region. One of the extinct creatures that we still have a connection to today would be the Elephant bird. It’s estimated that its 20lbs egg would make an omelet to feed around 150 hungry people (the equivalent of 100 hungry college students).
The most predominant threats facing Madagascar are agricultural fires, deforestation/habitat destruction, erosion/soil degradation, over exploitation of resources in regards to hunting and overtaking of it’s natural wildlife, and unfortunately introduction of invasive species. The introduction of alien species has greatly hindered the continuation of its endemic species. A great example of this would be the introduction of species found in Madagascar’s lakes and rivers, the adaptable and aggressive tilapia (Florida native). The tilapia was first introduced as a source of fish food but has now displaced the native Cichlids due to poor fishing regulations. The pet trade has also made quite a dent. Animals such as chameleons, snakes, tortoises and geckos are the most targeted for their high resale prices. Organizations that are involved in helping this biodiversity hotspot are the Makira Carbon Company, Wildlife Conservation Society and UNICEF.
Reference: http://www.wcs.org/where-we-work/africa/madagascar.aspx?gclid=CNeig-G8zasCFYEj7Aod1iiQ0A http://wildmadagascar.org http://www.mobot.org/mobot/madagascar/