18o55´S/47o31´E (ANTANANARIVO) 587,041 square km, 2,876 m (Mount Maromokotro),

Birding Site Guide

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, over twice the size of UK. From the coral reefs of the E, the country rises sharply to a plateau which covers two-thirds of the island, there are many rivers (longest River Mangoky 560 km) and old volcanic outcrops and crater lakes and wider W lowlands. There are 4 major biomes, the wet lush eastern lowland rainforest that are confined to a narrow coastal strip and receive more rainfall than the dry deciduous forests of the west, these are in the north and central area but the plain is much broader than the E with some isolated plateaus and the southern spiny thickets and succulent woodlands of the SW and S and the ericoid thickets of the central plateau. The Madagascan wetlands can be considered a fifth biome, containing unique species including birds.

In the site guides, each place will be listed as one of these four types of biomes.

Unfortunately 90% of the forests have gone and most of the destruction has occurred in the eastern rainforest which are now highly fragmented, much of this due to coffee crops and slash and burn agricultural methods. The southern spiny bush while not as fragmented has also suffered heavily and hunting in all parts puts further pressure on species and is the main cause of extinction for such species as the Elephant Bird (Aepyornis and Mullerornis) and all the extinct giant lemurs (which were all larger than the extant species).

Madagascar, while only holding 297 species of bird has a fascinating array of 106 endemics, and 31 threatened species, in several unique habitat zones. Other species whilst not strict endemics are nonetheless best sought here. Some species have gone extinct in historic times (and many others just over 1000 years ago), all were endemics: Snail-eating Coua Coua delalandei and Elephant Bird Aepyornis maximus (the world’s largest/heaviest bird ever which stood at 3m and went extinct in 17th century) and up to 3 other species in this genera and 2 species of the smaller Mullerornis. This is a very high ratio of endemics. The endemics are not just restricted to birds but are just as prolific in all plant and animal Classes.

Madagascar's fauna: As of 2008, there were officially 103 species and subspecies of lemur (43 newly described between 2000 and 2011) all are endemic to Madagascar. At least 17 species of lemur have become extinct since man arrived on Madagascar, all of which were larger than the surviving lemur species. At least 90% of the remaining species of lemurs are threatened with extinction, making it the most threatened mammal family of all.



gclid=CImBzuCPqLECFcQNfAodLnIAUQagascar is home to some real endemic oddities in the world of mammals not least the Aye-Aye Daubentonia madagascariensis the cat-like FossaCryptoprocta ferox and Tenrecs (several genus’ including the largest Microgale) species found on the island, some endemic. The island is home to two-thirds of the world's chameleon species. There are over 100 species of endemic fishes including the Coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae. Of invertebrates, all 651 species of terrestrial snail are endemic, as are a majority of the island's butterflies, scarab beetles, lacewings, spiders and dragonflies.

Over 80% of Madagascar's 14,883 plant species are endemic and five plant families entirely. The plant family Didiereaceae, composed of four genera and 11 species, is limited to the spiny forests of SW Madagascar. Four-fifths of the world's Pachypodium species are endemic to the island. Three-fourths of Madagascar's 860 orchid species are endemic, as are six of the world's eight Baobab (Adansonia) species. The island is also home to around 170 palm species, three times more species than mainland Africa; 165 are endemic.

For lists of all the endemics look here. MADAGASCAR LIVING NATIONAL TREASURES

These totals represent endemic percentages of 98% for its land mammals 92% for reptiles and 68% for plants. From all types of animal and plants 615 new species were discovered in Madagascar between 1999 and 2010: 41 mammals, 61 reptiles, 69 amphibians, 17 fishes, 42 invertebrates and 385 plants (WWF).

Madagascar leads the world in the production of several crops: Vanilla Vanilla planifolia, ClovesSyzygium aromaticum and Ylang-Ylang Cananga odorata other main crops are: Coffee Coffea arabica, Lychees Litchi chinensis.

Protected areas total 60,000 square km, comprising five Strict Nature Reserves, 21 Wildlife Reserves and 21 National Parks. INFORMATION ON MADAGASCAN PROTECTED AREAS

Author: BSG