Nature pictures from Madagascar

These images were taken by Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler over the course of several trips to Madagascar between 1997 and 2019.

The images are organized into galleries, the most popular of which are presented below.

The bottom of this page includes recent conservation news from Madagascar.





Murky provenance of a Chinese fleet clouds Madagascar shrimp fishery (11 May 2022 11:05:16 +0000)
- Thirty-nine trawlers are licensed to catch up to 4,170 metric tons of shrimp in Madagascar’s waters during the 2022 campaign, which officially began on March 1.
- Chinese-owned company Mada Fishery, which holds eight exploration rights did not apply to catch shrimp this year, and its eight vessels are now sitting idle.
- Three of the vessels were previously engaged in fishing violations in the Gambia, and under Malagasy law should not be eligible to fish in Madagascar now — unless there’s been a change in their ownership.
- But a murky document trail and general lack of transparency into the vessels’ ownership makes it unclear whether that has happened; transparency advocates say the implementation of simple measures would have made a significant difference in the investigation of Mada Fishery.

Deforestation-neutral mining? Madagascar study shows it can be done, but it’s complicated (11 May 2022 00:10:30 +0000)
- The Ambatovy mine in Madagascar achieved no net forest loss by curbing deforestation in its biodiversity offsets, an analysis in the journal Nature Sustainability concluded.
- Project developers create biodiversity offsets, sites where they undertake conservation work, to make up for environmental destruction caused by their extractive operations.
- Ambatovy, which operates an open-pit nickel mine in Madagascar, carved out four biodiversity offsets to make up for biodiversity loss in its mining site, located in the species-rich eastern rainforest of the island nation.
- By slowing deforestation in these four offsets, the mine made up for forest loss in its mining concession; however, there isn’t enough data to ascertain how the measures impacted biodiversity, and previous research indicates that the mine’s offsets reduced impoverished communities’ access to forest resources.

Madagascar’s insistence on using seized rosewood rattles conservationists (29 Mar 2022 13:52:49 +0000)
- Since CITES banned the global trade of Malagasy rosewood in 2013, the country has faced a dilemma: what to do with the illegally harvested timber in government custody?
- This month Madagascar proposed using seized rosewood, which it claims is secure, domestically, effectively removing it from CITES oversight.
- Though the plan concerns a small fraction of the stockpile, it could set a dangerous precedent, opening the door for the remaining timber to be unlawfully funneled into the global market and drive illegal logging, anti-trafficking campaigners said.
- The proposal came up for discussion at the CITES standing committee meeting this March, but CITES parties are expected to reach a decision at the next summit in November.

‘Small-scale fishers have a Ph.D. in the ocean’: Q&A with Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy (08 Mar 2022 07:00:11 +0000)
- Traditional fishers along Madagascar’s coastline are grappling with falling fish stocks, cyclones, and competition from industrial trawlers, mostly owned by foreigners.
- In an attempt to better manage the country’s marine wealth and secure local fishers’ rights, communities banded together to form Mihari, a network of locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) that leans heavily on traditional ocean knowledge.
- As Mihari’s national coordinator for six years Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy supported a campaign to reserve fishing areas for small scale fishers and helped create a space for women to fully participate in decision-making.
- She spoke with Mongabay recently about the challenges facing fishing communities, their depth of marine knowledge, and the prospects for securing their fishing rights.

Two storms in two weeks carve trail of death and destruction in Madagascar (07 Feb 2022 15:03:08 +0000)
- Batsirai, a category 4 cyclone, struck Madagascar’s eastern coast on Feb. 5, leaving 10 people dead.
- The island nation is still recovering from another tropical storm, Ana, which made landfall on Jan. 22 and left dozens dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.
- Data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that 12 storms of category 4 or 5, the highest level, made landfall on Madagascar between 1911; of these 12, eight occurred since 2000.

In Madagascar, beekeepers persist in the face of fires and forest loss (05 Jan 2022 18:40:54 +0000)
- The Anjozorobe Angavo forest corridor is one of the few remaining primary forests in the Central Highlands of Madagascar.
- Home to a number of rare and endemic species, this primary forest is undergoing a rapid decline, driven primarily by fires.
- In hopes of alleviating the problem, an NGO and a honey company are collaborating to train farmers in apiculture, with the aim of providing them with a stable income and an alternative livelihood that does not involve destroying the forest.
- However, this beekeeping project is threatened by the rapid decline of trees that are vital for the survival of bees.

Changes to Madagascar’s trawling sector raise questions and hopes (29 Dec 2021 18:56:19 +0000)
- Madagascar’s auction for nearshore trawling rights has elicited concern from civil society members, who say it was not conducted transparently and opens the door for environmental mismanagement.
- Two Chinese-backed firms won nearly half of the fishing rights. One of them has brought in vessels that were caught fishing illegally in West Africa last year, and the other, which was already fishing in Madagascar, may have violated a national fishing regulation this year.
- But observers have also welcomed other aspects of Madagascar’s fisheries management overhaul this year.
- These include the creation of the Ministry of Fisheries and the Blue Economy, the appointment of scientist and civil society member as the new minister and the joining of FiTI, a global fisheries transparency initiative.

Madagascar’s small fishers cheer new trawl-free zone, but do trawlers obey it? (28 Dec 2021 19:10:43 +0000)
- Madagascar in July imposed a prohibition on industrial trawlers fishing in waters within 2 nautical miles (3.7 kilometers) of the country’s coast.
- Small-scale fishers, who for years have clashed with the industrial vessels, welcomed the new rule, but say the trawlers are largely ignoring it.
- Vessel-tracking data appear to corroborate their claims, with at least 14 trawlers apparently fishing in the prohibited zone along the west coast in recent months.
- An industry executive said that any incursions by his company were uncommon and accidental. Regulators say penalties will be imposed based on the severity of the violations.

Kenya court orders return of $13m in seized rosewood to suspected traffickers (28 Dec 2021 12:26:53 +0000)
- In November, a Kenyan court ordered the release of 646 metric tons of Malagasy rosewood (Dalbergia spp.), worth up to $13 million, to a Hong Kong-based company from which it had been seized in 2014 by Kenyan authorities.
- Lawyers for the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), which filed a case against the consignment owners, argued that trade in rosewood was banned under CITES, the international wildlife trade convention; however, the judge in the case disagreed.
- Juan Carlos Vasquez, who heads the legal affairs unit of CITES, confirmed to Mongabay that Malagasy rosewood was listed in Appendix II of the international convention on June 12, 2013.
- Since trade in Malagasy rosewood is banned under CITES today, legally moving the wood out of Mombasa will be tricky for the defendants; conservationist Chris Morris says the company is using false documentation to ship the rosewood from Kenya to Taiwan.

‘Unprecedented’ fires in Madagascar national park threaten livelihoods and lemurs (23 Dec 2021 20:38:34 +0000)
- Ankarafantsika National Park protects an oasis of dry forest in northern Madagascar, providing vital habitat to critically endangered lemurs and other wildlife.
- In September and October, fires raged across the southern portion of the park, burning more than 40 square kilometers (15 square miles).
- While fire is a natural part of Ankarafantsika’s ecosystems, researchers say fire on this scale is “unprecedented” and amounting to a “conservation crisis.”
- The fires are also drying out the landscape and reducing neighboring communities’ crop yields, which conservationists warn could have knock-on effects for nearby forests as people turn to natural resources to survive.

This collection of nature photos from Madagascar is part of Mongabay's library of 150,000-plus images. Other images may be available beyond those displayed on this page.

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