Island country off the coast of east Africa. One of the major attractions for all naturalists visiting Madagascar is Endemism.
- The endemism is a result of the fact that the island has been isolated for almost 100 million years, when it broke off from India. This isolation has led to an abundance of fauna and flora species that occur nowhere else on the planet.
- Scientists recently discovered that this separation only in part explains Madagascar’s high endemism levels. A very intriguing fact is that many of these endemic plants and animals have very small distributions on the island, something that is called micro-endemism. The theory is that micro-climate changes and specific topographic patterns of rivers and lakes on the island led to specific adaptations in certain plants, birds and animals, in turn leading to brand new species over time.
- Madagascar is classified by Conservation International as a biodiversity hotspot. An almost unbelievable 80 percent of all the species (over 250,000) found in Madagascar are endemic!
- Size: 587,041 km2 (226,658 sq mi) 46th largest country in the world, 4th largest island on earth.
- Biodiversity hotspot with incredible endemism: over 90% of species on the island found nowhere else on earth.
- Contains five general geographical regions: the narrow east coast lowlands, the Tsaratanana Massif, the central highlands (ranging from 800 to 1,800 m (2,625 to 5,906 ft)), the west coast with its deep bays and harbours, and the southwest with the Mahafaly plateau and desert region.
- Incredibly varied habitats, including lowland rainforest, mid-altitude rainforest, high-elevation rainforest, eastern mid-altitude wetlands, the famous western dry forest, uniqued southern spiny forests, western wetlands and high grassland savannah.
- Highest point: Mount Maromokotro – 2,876 m (9,436 ft) in the Tsaratanana Massif in the north
- Climate is tropical along the coast, temperate inland and arid in the south.
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 3. Royal Hill of Ambohimanga (2001), Rainforests of the Atsinanana (2007) and Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve (1990).
Famous parks and reserves
- Isalo National Park: stunning and dramatic sandstone formations, lots of interesting animals and more than 100 bird species
- Kirindy Forest: home of the carnivorous Fossa, the mythical Baobabs and more
- Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park: transitional, dry habitat park with top birds, rare mammals and bizarre smaller fauna
- Ranomafana National Park: stunning tropical rainforest habitat that is home to 115 species of birds, as well as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Berenty Reserve: unique, dry, spiny forest reserve with Ring-tailed Lemurs galore
- Andasibe-Mantadia National Park: beautiful forest reserve with top birds, Indri and another 13 species of lemur
- 240 mammal species, including 22 critically endangered and 62 endangered species
- National Mammal: Ring-tailed Lemur
- Other star mammals: Fossa, Indri, Aye-aye, Coquerel’s Sifaka, Golden Bamboo Lemur, Berthe’s Mouse Lemur, Coquerel’s Giant Mouse Lemur and Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec
- 305 bird species, including 6 endemic bird families, 130 endemic and near-endemic species (species-poor but endemic-rich) and 37 globally threatened species
- National Bird: Madagascan Fish Eagle
- Other star birds: Red-capped, Crested and Running Coua, Pitta-like Roller, Scaly and Rufous-headed Ground Roller, Cuckoo Roller, Subdesert and Brown Mesite, Velvet Asity
- IBAs (Important Bird Areas): 84, including Ankarafantsika National Park, Mantadia National Park, Torotorofotsy Wetlands and Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park
- 370 reptile species (of which over 90% are endemic) including 150 chameleon species
- 311 frog species
- 100,000 insect species, including 300 species of butterflies and 80 species of stick insect
- 12,000 species of plants (83% are endemic)
- 900 species of orchids
- National Plant: Traveller’s Tree (strelitzia)
- National Tree: Baobab (Madagascar boasts 7 different species)
Madagascar ticks all the boxes of a proper bucket list destination with the most iconic wildlife that you will ever experience!