Monday, August 31, 2015

Madagascar Protects Habitat

Indri lemur, credit J. Washburn-Lee
Madagascar has seen 90% of its forests cut down since Europeans came to the island in the 16th century.  Evolved in isolation, its unique flora and fauna has suffered terribly.  So the island nation has not been a source of positive conservation news, but the Prime Minister recently declared seven new reserves to protect endangered lemurs, chameleons and frogs.  The seven reserves cover 74,816 acres of the highly endangered eastern rainforest.  The Rainforest Trust with local partner Madagasikara Voakajy were instrumental in achieving this modest expansion of protected forest after six years of effort.  The forest is home to seven species of lemurs and 60% of the critically endangered Golden Mantella frog.

Since a political coup in 2009, Madagascar's eastern rainforest has lost over a million hectares of coverage.  A surfeit of poaching and rosewood cutting has taken place as well as clearances for subsistence farming and charcoal production.  Lemurs once enjoyed the protection of traditional taboos, but increasingly hunters are poaching the larger lemur species and selling them as bushmeat in local markets.  Go to to see pictures of Madagascar's endemic wildlife threatened by man's uncontrolled exploitation of the island's natural resources.