Madagascar is a wildlife heaven. Approximately 90% of all plant and animal species found in Madagascar are endemic, including at least 103 species and subspecies of lemurs. More than 80 percent of Madagascar’s 14,883 plant species are found nowhere else in the world. A number of other mammals, including the cat-like fossa, are endemic to Madagascar. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded on the island, of which over 60 percent are endemic. The few families and genera of reptile that have reached Madagascar have diversified into more than 260 species, with over 90 percent of these being endemic. The island is home to two-thirds of the world’s chameleon species, including the smallest known, and researchers have proposed that Madagascar may be the origin of all chameleons.
If nothing is done to save the world’s fourth island, the rain forests and all these species will be gone in 10 years. Maybe even more: some of Madagascar’s endemic species have never even been recorded and are likely to be lost before they are even studied.
Since the arrival of humans around 2,350 years ago, Madagascar has lost more than 90 percent of its original forest. About 40 percent of it was lost from the 1950s to 2000. It is anticipated that all the island’s rainforests, excluding those in protected areas and the steepest eastern mountain slopes, will have been deforested by 2025. Habitat destruction, hunting, poaching, traditional agricultural practice, harvesting are main threats. Photo: nicolerauch.blogspot.com