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.





Rio Tinto-owned mine is polluting Malagasy water with uranium and lead, NGOs say (01 Sep 2021 15:59:21 +0000)
- Some sites near a Rio Tinto-owned mine in Madagascar have recorded uranium and lead levels 52 and 40 times in excess of WHO safe drinking water standards, a recent analysis found.
- Around 15,000 people in Madagascar’s Anosy region depend on these water sources, including for drinking, a coalition of NGOs in the U.K. and Madagascar, pointed out, calling on the company to provide safe drinking water to the communities.
- Mine operator QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM), which is 80% owned by Rio Tinto, extracts ilmenite at the mine, a process that generates wastewater rich in minerals like uranium and lead, according to a report commissioned by the Andrew Lees Trust UK.
- QMM in its response to the NGOs indicated that the high concentrations were naturally occurring and denied that it was polluting the water.

Even as the government bets big on carbon, REDD+ flounders in Madagascar (18 Aug 2021 12:38:46 +0000)
- The Malagasy government’s decision to ban the sale of carbon credits as it reworks its REDD+ strategy has left all existing REDD+ projects in a limbo.
- The island nation only has a handful of projects, all helmed by foreign NGOs, which take advantage of the U.N.’s reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) program to raise money by selling carbon credits.
- Madagascar’s environment minister singled out an initiative by U.K.-based nonprofit Blue Ventures, criticizing it for striking a deal promising too little: $27,000 per year for 10 villages. The NGO disputes this appraisal.
- The government’s move to nationalize carbon ownership comes against the backdrop of familiar concerns about REDD+, in particular: how much do communities benefit from keeping forests standing?

China joins the foreign fleets quietly exploiting Madagascar’s waters (16 Aug 2021 16:38:03 +0000)
- For decades, fleets of industrial vessels from several nations have fished in Madagascar’s waters.
- Now China appears to have joined the fishing spree, sending at least 14 industrial longliner fishing vessels in the last several years, new evidence shows.
- Clues from official documents indicate that Madagascar’s government may have authorized these vessels to fish, at least since 2019.
- If so, the authorization process was not public, raising renewed concerns about the lack of transparency in Madagascar’s offshore fishing sector.

For Malagasy trapped in poverty, threatened lemurs and fossas are fair game (04 Aug 2021 09:20:35 +0000)
- Half of nearly 700 households surveyed in a recent study in Makira National Park in Madagascar reported eating lemur meat and a quarter had consumed fossa meat.
- The research conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society relied on indirect questioning and revealed unusually high levels of consumption of meat from the fossa, Madagascar’s top predator.
- Hunting pressure combined with shrinking habitats could lead to the local extinction of the indri, a critically endangered species and the largest living lemur, along with three other lemur species in the park.
- WCS’s current research will feed into a “behavior change campaign” to promote alternatives to hunting like poultry and fish farming, and harvesting of edible insects.

In Madagascar, cultural taboos can protect or harm the environment (25 May 2021 11:10:04 +0000)
- “Fady,” the Malagasy term for sociocultural and spiritual taboos or beliefs, greatly influence people’s daily lives in Madagascar.
- Fady are ancestral rules that can apply to a place, a person or even certain animals and plants.
- As they pertain to the natural world, fady can have either a positive or a negative impact on the environment and wildlife.

Madagascar’s vanishing trees (21 May 2021 17:38:16 +0000)
- Madagascar has a documented 2,900 endemic species of trees, but a new report shows that almost two-thirds of them are in danger of disappearing.
- Of the 3,118 species covered, more than 90% had never been systematically evaluated before, and one in 10 fell in the IUCN’s critically endangered category, a step away from going extinct in the wild.
- Though the island nation’s protected area network has expanded to more than 7 million hectares (17 million acres), a tenth of the tree species are found outside this safety net.
- Scientists are racing against the extinction clock to document this mind-boggling biodiversity and determine just how imperiled individual species are.

Ghost fish: after 420 million years in the deeps, modern gillnets from shark fin trade drag coelacanths into the light (12 May 2021 23:24:52 +0000)
- Undersea canyons off Madagascar may turn out to be the Indian Ocean epicentre for coelacanths, the remarkable “fossil fish” which re-surfaced from apparent extinction in 1938.
- Coelacanths have turned up with unexpected frequency in gill-nets set in deep waters to catch sharks for new, commercial markets.
- A worrying trend in recent coelacanth catches in Madagascar is the high proportion of pregnant females, which are thought to produce just 140 live babies during their entire lifecycle.
- Marine scientists are calling for reinforcement of conservation measures to protect this population from the pressure of incidental gill-net captures driven by the shark fin trade.

‘Bad science’: Planting frenzy misses the grasslands for the trees (12 May 2021 00:08:34 +0000)
- Planting trees by the millions has come to be considered one of the main ways of reining in runaway carbon emissions and tackling climate change.
- But experts say many tree-planting campaigns are based on flawed science: planting in grasslands and other non-forest areas, and prioritizing invasive trees over native ones.
- Experts point out that not all land is meant to be forested, and that planting trees in savannas and grasslands runs the risk of actually reducing carbon sequestration and increasing air temperature.
- The rush to reforest has also led to fast-growing eucalyptus and acacia becoming the choice of tree for planting, despite the fact they’re not native in most planting areas, and are both water-intensive and fire-prone.

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).

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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