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.





Madagascar: Businesses drive disappearance of a wetland ‘reed forest’ (31 Mar 2021 16:12:57 +0000)
- Lake Alaotra and its surrounding marshes are Madagascar’s largest wetland, a Ramsar Site that is home to globally significant biodiversity.
- Despite layers of legal protection and conservation programming, around 850 hectares (2,100 acres) of marsh disappear each year to make way for rice cultivation, much of it perpetrated by businesses.
- Local people are keenly feeling the lake’s decline, though, and a commitment to protecting it, along with some success stories, persist in pockets around its shores.
- The government is implementing a zero-tolerance campaign against illegal environmental destruction, but it remains to be seen whether this can reduce the lawlessness and impunity enough to safeguard the lake.

New map shows where the 80% of species we don’t know about may be hiding (31 Mar 2021 15:08:26 +0000)
- A new study maps out the regions of the world most likely to hold the highest number of species unknown to science.
- The study found that tropical forests in countries like Brazil, Indonesia, Madagascar and Colombia had the highest potential for undescribed species, mostly reptiles and amphibians.
- According to the lead researcher, the main reason for species going undescribed is a lack of funding and taxonomic experts in some parts of the world.
- He added that it’s essential to learn about as many species as possible to protect them, but that undescribed species are currently not taken into account by governing bodies like the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Slash-and-burn farming eats away at a Madagascar haven for endangered lemurs, frogs (09 Mar 2021 00:43:34 +0000)
- The Ankeniheny-Zahamena Corridor (CAZ), a protected area in Madagascar, has experienced a surge in deforestation in the past five months, driven largely by slash-and-burn agriculture.
- The loss of forest threatens rare and endangered wildlife found nowhere else, including lemurs and frogs and geckos, conservationists say.
- Other factors fueling the deforestation include mining for gemstones and cutting of trees to make charcoal.
- The problem in CAZ is emblematic of a wider trend throughout the central eastern region of Madagascar, in both protected and unprotected areas, where 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of tree cover has been lost since 2001.

Reforested areas rival mature forests in securing water, study finds (02 Mar 2021 12:18:04 +0000)
- New research from Madagascar shows that young scrubby forests can in some ways be better at retaining water than older mature forests.
- They provide similar benefits in preventing runoff but use up lesser water, according to a recently published paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
- However, some hydrologists say the effects of evapotranspiration, water released back into the atmosphere by trees, on rainfall in areas farther afield must not be ignored.
- If scrubby forests are as efficient as older ones in retaining water, it means reforestation boosts water resources available to communities who take part in reforestation drives.

Madagascar: Young farmers adopt new methods to help lemurs, forests and themselves (19 Feb 2021 16:55:47 +0000)
- Threatened by unsustainable farming methods and hunting, the forests of Mangabe-Ranomena-Sahasarotra in eastern Madagascar, and the lemurs that live there, are in danger.
- A project aims to train young villagers in the region in sustainable farming techniques and to raise their awareness of lemur protection.
- These young people are trained to be ambassadors for the protection of the environment, who will transmit their knowledge to the next generation.

Newly described chameleon from Madagascar may be world’s smallest reptile (03 Feb 2021 13:10:17 +0000)
- A newly described chameleon from Madagascar is the world’s tiniest chameleon, and possibly the smallest reptile.
- A male specimen of Brookesia nana measured a mere 14 mm (0.55 inches), small enough to perch on an aspirin tablet.
- Madagascar hosts more than 100 species of chameleons, and 30 species belonging to the Brookesia genus alone.
- Many of the chameleons, including B. nana, are only found in tiny patches of forest that are severely threatened by deforestation and degradation.

Mob killing of Malagasy officer spotlights risks faced by forest guardians (02 Feb 2021 05:30:50 +0000)
- A law enforcement officer was fatally wounded and two civilians killed on Jan. 20 when a mob accosted him and three others as they tried to apprehend suspected illegal loggers in a village in northeastern Madagascar.
- The confrontation was exacerbated by the presence of trained mercenaries who villagers sometimes enlist to protect them against cattle raiders, local media reported.
- Madagascar, a megadiverse island off Africa’s eastern coast has suffered dramatic forest loss in recent years, but reliance on community-led conservation is fraught, given their lack of power and resources.
- At the front line of the fight to preserve its natural riches but at the lowest rung of the enforcement apparatus are Madagascar’s forest guards and law enforcement officers like Lahatra Rahajaharison, who died in the attack.

Dusty winds exacerbate looming famine in Madagascar’s deep south (29 Jan 2021 04:53:12 +0000)
- At least 1.27 million people need humanitarian assistance in Madagascar’s drought-hit deep south, according to a Jan. 18 request by the U.N. and the Malagasy government for $75.9 million in international aid to cope with the crisis.
- The area is also experiencing dust and sand storms, a natural phenomenon known as a tiomena that is exacerbating the crisis by smothering crops, forests, buildings and roads.
- Tiomenas may be increasingly common as southern Madagascar undergoes a long-term drying trend.
- Experts say upgrading the area’s water supply system is an urgent priority and recommend massive tree planting to provide wind breaks, protect soils from erosion and create more humidity.

Invasion of the crayfish clones: Q&A with Ranja Andriantsoa (27 Jan 2021 16:23:00 +0000)
- An unusual invasive crayfish has been spreading in Madagascar, threatening aquatic biodiversity even as it helps nourish the country’s food-insecure population.
- The marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis) evolved only in recent decades as part of the German aquarium trade. It’s entirely female and reproduces clonally without males.
- Ranja Andriantsoa, a Malagasy biologist and epigenetics researcher, began studying marbled crayfish as a way to learn about cancerous tumors, which reproduce in a similar way.
- Andriantsoa’s ongoing research focuses on the social and health impacts of the marbled crayfish and aims to inform Madagascar’s strategy for managing the crayfish’s ecological impact.

Amazon is on the brink of turning into a carbon source, study warns (25 Jan 2021 13:56:12 +0000)
- Forests remain a carbon sink, stashing away 7.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, but their ability to lock carbon is weakening.
- In the last 20 years alone, forests in Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia, have turned into net carbon emitters, and the Amazon threatens to go the same way.
- Most of the Amazon lies in Brazil, and between 2001 and 2019 the Brazilian Amazon acted as a net carbon source, a new study has found.
- What is especially worrying is the loss of pristine swaths of forests in countries like Madagascar that have kept carbon out of the atmosphere for decades, if not centuries.

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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