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.





Top environment stories from Madagascar in 2020 (30 Dec 2020 05:41:14 +0000)
- Madagascar witnessed a convergence of calamities this year, from the pandemic to surging forest fires to an unprecedented drought.
- Despite growing pressures on its forests, new species continue to be uncovered from the island, with the description of a mouse lemur, several chameleons, and even the world’s ugliest orchid.
- Protected Area management has emerged as a bone of contention between the government and NGOs that manage them, underscoring the challenges of doing conservation in a poor country.
- Here are ten key stories and trends from Madagascar in 2020.

In Madagascar’s hungry south, drought pushes more than 1 million to brink of famine (24 Dec 2020 06:11:11 +0000)
- In Madagascar’s deep south, 1.35 million people, including 100,000 children, could fall victim to malnutrition this year, as the worst drought in a decade grips the region.
- This remote region has witnessed 16 famines since 1896, eight of which occurred in the past four decades. Most were the direct result of rainfall deficits, but misguided or failed policies have deepened the distress.
- This year, with crop failures, pandemic-related restrictions curbing access to markets, and sharp increases in prices of essentials, food has remained out of reach for thousands.
- Such droughts and the attendant famines are likely to become more frequent due to climate change, producing more hunger and distress in one of the poorest countries in the world.

A Madagascar forest long protected by its remoteness is now threatened by it (21 Dec 2020 20:55:22 +0000)
- Satellite data show an increase in deforestation in Tsaratanana Reserve and the neighboring COMATSA protected area in northern Madagascar in recent years, and an uptick in the last few months.
- Though many of the island’s forests have been extensively cleared, these northern forests were relatively well protected until recently.
- The loss of these forests to make way for the illegal cultivation of marijuana, vanilla and rice threatens the region’s rich biodiversity and high endemism, conservationists say.
- Some experts argue that the legalization of marijuana would make it less likely that people would grow the crop in the remote forests of Tsaratanana.

As minister and activists trade barbs, Madagascar’s forests burn (17 Dec 2020 09:00:25 +0000)
- Forest fires are blazing across Madagascar, including in its protected areas, home to some of the world’s rarest species, from critically endangered lemurs to hundreds of endemic snails.
- In Manombo Special Reserve, known for sheltering more than 50 species of snails found nowhere else on Earth, woodland the size of 800 Olympic swimming pools went up in smoke last month.
- In nearby Befotaka-Midongy National Park, one of the largest stretches of evergreen forest in Madagascar, more than 1,000 fires were reported this year.
- A heated debate has erupted online about the fires, with some activists criticizing the environment ministry, while the ministry says the blame is shared by NGOs that manage most of the country’s protected areas.

Madagascar moves to reopen domestic trade in non-precious timber (30 Nov 2020 16:20:33 +0000)
- Madagascar eased a two-year-old restriction on the domestic sale of stockpiles of so-called ordinary wood — non-precious timber logged from natural forests. The government will not issue any new permits for commercial logging of ordinary wood and its export remains prohibited.
- The move in no way applies to precious timber such as rosewood and ebony, whose stocks remain illegal to log, sell or export. Nor does it apply to exotic species such as pine and eucalyptus.
- The government is currently developing a plan to use stockpiles of confiscated precious timber domestically, for example in the construction of public buildings and the production of handicrafts.
- Law enforcement weakness remains one of the biggest challenges for Malagasy forest management.

Bug bites: Edible insect production ramps up quickly in Madagascar (19 Nov 2020 15:38:07 +0000)
- In the last two years, two insect farming projects have taken off in Madagascar as a way to provide precious protein while alleviating pressure on lemurs and other wild animals hunted for bushmeat.
- One program, which promotes itself with a deck of playing cards, encourages rainforest residents in the northeast to farm a bacon-flavored native planthopper called sakondry.
- Another program focuses on indoor production of crickets in the capital city, Antananarivo.
- Both projects are on the cusp of expanding to other parts of the country.

A Malagasy community wins global recognition for saving its lake (18 Nov 2020 03:03:03 +0000)
- A community association charged with managing Lake Andranobe in central Madagascar has won this year’s Equator Prize from the UNDP in the category “Nature for Water.”
- The association’s efforts, including implementing fishery closures, regulating water use, and reforestation, have led to increased fish catches and helped revive the lake ecosystem.
- As in the rest of the world, Madagascar’s wetlands are often overlooked in conservation priorities, despite the fact that freshwater species are even more threatened than terrestrial or marine biodiversity.
- The prize highlights the benefits of community-driven management, which often works better than initiatives undertaken by outsiders but also carries considerable challenges.

The riddle of Madagascar’s megafauna extinction just got trickier (17 Nov 2020 06:10:20 +0000)
- Madagascar saw a relatively recent mass extinction event about 1,000 years ago, when gorilla-sized lemurs, towering elephant birds, and grand tortoises were all wiped out from the island.
- A recently published paper complicates the widely-held understanding that humans were to blame for the crash, by drawing attention to a megadrought that the authors say also played a role.
- The new study uses geological evidence from Madagascar and Rodrigues, an island now part of Mauritius about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) east of Madagascar, to construct a climatic record.
- Some scientists have questioned whether the geological record from Madagascar paints an accurate picture of past climate, or whether the data from Rodrigues can shed light on conditions in Madagascar.

Podcast: Lemur love and award-winning plant passion in Madagascar (11 Nov 2020 17:35:58 +0000)
- We’ve got recordings of indri lemurs and the architect of 11 new protected areas that aim to protect Madagascar’s rich biodiversity of plant life on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast.
- We’re joined by Jeannie Raharimampionana, a Malagasy botanist who has identified 80 priority areas for conservation of plant life in her country and has already turned 11 of those areas into officially decreed protected areas.
- We’re also joined by Valeria Torti, who uses bioacoustics to improve conservation of critically endangered indri lemurs in Madagascar’s Maromizaha forest. She plays for us a number of recordings of the primates’ songs.

A chameleon not seen in a century reappears in a Madagascar garden (02 Nov 2020 07:40:19 +0000)
- Researchers recently rediscovered the Voeltzkow’s chameleon (Furcifer voeltzkowi) in an untamed hotel garden in northwestern Madagascar, after the species was “lost” for more than 100 years.
- The female chameleons were found to change color and pattern when interacting with males or when being handled by humans.
- While the species still needs to be officially evaluated by the IUCN, the researchers suggest that it should be considered an endangered species.

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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