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/

Pictures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madagascar

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15 responses »

  1. It is such a disappointment when a place as special as Madagascar is being destroyed. I have never been there but I have always wanted to go because my best friend has been there and he talks about the amazing wild life and beautiful beaches, there is no place like it.

  2. I had no idea that tilapia were from florida natively. it’s also interesting to find that a major cause of animal endangerment in Madagascar is the trade of pet type animals, since it’s almost hard to believe that such a high volume export of animals like these could exist to put an entire species in danger.

  3. It was a very interesting choice of a hotspot. In most people’s minds, Madagascar is a paradise island with active wildlife, but it is far from reality when one finds out about threads to the natural habitats. It could be compared to a little version of Australia and New Zealand, since it is an island, in a significant distance from a continent and it has been under rapid human development only in the recent centuries.

    I believe that it is another example of how human impact can ruin the environment just by taking over a new piece of land. Since, as the note mentioned, 99% of the species are endemic to the island, it is very important for human to adapt to the nature rather than forcing the nature to adjust to new factors, such as pollution, deforestation, introduction of invasive species. Another aspect is the education that needs to be provided for local people, who are often not aware of the heritage and natural treasures they are surrounded with.

    – Kasia (Katarzyna) Dybek

  4. kristy says:

    i didn’t realize that the frogs were the only amphibian on madagascar, madagascar is such an interesting country, i hope they can save everything on it to keep it how it is and not have it be destructed anymore then it already has.

  5. Leo Costa says:

    If deforestation keeps occurring then the unique flora and fauna will be lost. Also, the land is home to 300 species that now live under threat. Habitat destruction and erosion are constantly occurring in Madagascar.

  6. Ashley Raynor says:

    I love Lemurs and elephant birds! Who knew tilapia came from Florida? – not I. very interesting!

  7. I also found it very intriguing that there is only one form of amphibian (the frog). You’d think there would be at least one form of newt or salamander somewhere on madagascar. Such a cool hotspot.

  8. AReilly says:

    I find it horrible that one of the reasons so many of the important species in Madagascar are disappearing is because of the sale of them as pets. It’s disgusting, and it just plays into the strength of human greed. I find it very disconcerting that we think it okay to make money off of the animals in an area just because they’re endangered and beautiful and will fetch a hefty price. It’s horrible to know that rich folk all over the world buy them. and most who are taken are treated horribly. I know so many stories of ring-tailed lemurs that are brought here to be bred and have their babies sold as pets and companions. They’re treated terribly and are often kept in small, dirty cages, without the right food. I hope that one day the pet trade is forever silenced in order to save the species that still live in Madagascar.

  9. bhall1 says:

    Madagascar has no frogs, thats odd. What I thought was even more astounding is that mongoose’s eat lemurs. I didn’t take lemurs for the prey of mongoose’s but it’s a crazy world we live in.

  10. Rachel Schwarting says:

    It’s so horrible that so many species are being threatened by deforestation. It’s too bad people can’t see the value of what they already have right there.

  11. laura wood says:

    I feel as though madagascar reflects what the world was a few hundred years ago. Although we are just now noticing the dissapearance of such rare and unique species, we can probably imagine what the world was like by looking at madagascar. unique bio hot spots may have existed all over north america, but went extinct before anybody noticed. By presenrving as much as they can now may ensure future generations ability to witness such amazing life.

  12. Johanna Bystedt says:

    I think that now that those Madagascar movies have come out, it will bring a positive light to the region, especially with the younger generation. Hopefully by the time they grow up it wont be too late. I never thought about the fact that few of those animals in the pet shops like geckos and chameleons actually would have come from as far away as Madagascar, its really naive of me to think that way, but i always though that they would have been bred somewhere in like Idaho or something and shipped to those stores. Wow. Its such a small place that it really is easy to overlook. Hopefully the movie business can make more movies for younger kids that brings these issues to light.

  13. I find Madagascar so interesting, I’d love to visit there one day. And if some of these endemic frogs possibly contain something to slow down the growth of cancer cells, we shouldn’t just completely destroy they’re habitat and anything they live off of. It’s worth a shot, I think.

    Amanda Garcia

  14. Dave Swanson says:

    Madagascar is a prime example of species endangerment in action. It is sad to see such a richly diverse area be devastated so by the hands of man.

  15. April White says:

    It’s sad that we see this happening and yet it continues. One of the biggest things in medicine research is how to cure cancer. Well here have frogs who could possibly help us achieve our goal and yet not only are we harming them but also their living environment. Will we ever stop destroying our planet and live in harmony with everything else around us?

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