Saturday 11 December 2010

Madagascar introduction

Madagascar has always been a dream of mine to visit. Because of its unique fauna and flora, and extremely high rate of endemism (species only excisting in Madagascar and nowhere else in the world), the country off the eastern coast of Africa is often referred to as the 7th continent. And it really is true, the wildlife here is fantastic and abundant depending that the right places are visited. The country suffers a lot from deforestation, but a few scattered forest reserves are protected and a good eco-tourism industry is now established.

My first ten days in Madagascar was spent working in the remote Kirindy forest reserve together with French and Malagasy herpetologists. I also enjoyed assisting a good colleague and friend of mine, who is currently doing some very interesting frog research here. To underline the uniqueness of Madagascar’s fauna, I briefly mention that during the few days we spent in the forest we found an incredible 4 probably new species to science never described before. This included three lizards and one frog. Furher analyses needs to be taken before final conclusions, but because of scientific publication matters I can’t publish images of the new specimen here on the blog yet.

Anyway, I will show you a brief introduction to some of the amazing wildlife we have encountered during the last week.

Fosa, the largest land predator in Madagascar. A bizarre looking animal which is the size of a small dog, and looks somewhat like a hybrid between a cat and a maarten. Except for in Kirindy, it is virtually impossible to see it anywhere in Madagascar. Needless to say, to be able to  photograph this species  was an amazing experience!

Giant jumping rat – a 1,3 kg rodent that was once widespread in Madagascar. The population is now restricted not only to Madagascar, but to Kirindy and the surrounding areas only. The nocturnal Giant jumping rat is now considered to be one of the absolute rarest mammals on earth, with a population of a few hundred only.

One of the few chameleons encountered so far on the trip. Chameleons usually becoming abundant after rain, but so far we only had three afternoons with rain, so the forest was still very dry on our visit.

We spent a lot of time searching for frogs, frog eggs and tadpoles. This is probably a member of the genus Aglyptodactulus.

When most people think of Madagascar, they also think of the acrobatic lemurs. These primates are unique to Madagascar, as well as abundant. Here is a Verraux sifaka with her offspring flying through the air...followed by a curious baby.

As you probably understand, the first ten days have given me some amazing photography oppurtunities, and I have a lot more images to show. As our travel plan includes visiting fairly remote places in Madagascar, I am not sure when I will get internett access next time. I promise I will try to keep the blog updated as far as possible.



  1. Priceless pic of the Fossa! Looking forward to more news. Merry christmas!


  2. Eirik/WildNature.no17 December 2010 at 11:24

    Thanks Kjetil!

    I have a lot more of them - had close encounters about every 2nd day as 4 individuals (2 females, 2 males) were following each other for the mating season. Missed the real action images though...

    Tomorrow down to Andasibe for rainforest action - hopefully :-) Merry Christmas to you as well!