Madagascar

Thank you to Stephen for sending this postcard of an aye-aye lemur in Madagascar. Stephen made the postcard using a photograph he took whilst visiting the Palmarium Reserve, on the eastern coastal strip, see below:

Map section from the Paw Print Map Google MyMaps

Madagascar is approximately 227 thousand square miles large (about the same size as Texas or France), and 250 miles away from mainland Africa. It has a population of 26.3 million, 78% of whom live in poverty. The Human Development Index (HDI) of Madagascar is 0.521, giving it a ranking of 162. If you would like to understand more about HDI please click here to read Geography Cat’s explanation. (Statistics from UN Human Development Report)

In his postcard Stephen tells us how the aye-aye find larvae to eat by tapping branches and listening for a hollow sound. If they hear this hollow noise, the aye-aye use their strong front teeth to rip the bark back from the branch before reaching in with their claws to tug out their prey.

Photograph of an aye-aye by Stephen Woodham

Stephen has taken some amazing shots and he agreed that Geography Cat could share some of them here with you:

The ankarana sportive lemur, photo by Stephen Woodham
Panther Chameleon, photo by Stephen Woodham
An indri mother with her 4 month old child, photo by Stephen Woodham

Madagascar island split away from the African continental land mass around 135 million years ago. At that time it was connected to the Indian continent, it separated from this around 88 million years ago. It is these two continental separations that have resulted in the mega-diversity of life on the island. However, this diversity is under threat. Less than 10% of the island’s original forest cover remains today. Most deforestation has occurred to make way for agriculture, such as cattle grazing, and firewood.

Madagascar became independent (from French colonisation) in 1960. In the short time since then there has been great political upheaval and little economic development. As the HDI figures show, quality of life for Malagasy people is far from good. Organisations such as the WWF are working hard here with local people to help protect this unique environment.

To read more about the work of the WWF in Madagascar see here. And to view more of Stephen’s gorgeous wildlife photography see here.

2 Replies to “Madagascar”

  1. Madagascar has an amazing ecological diversity, particularly mammals and reptiles. With over-population and mass scale deforestation, together with the need for economic growth, a major socio-economic shift is needed to place both $ values and non-$ values on natural resources and ecosystem services. Communities need to protect what is left.

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