Vibrant ecosystems with endemic creatures and trees have developed in Madagascar.
Situated approximately 250 miles away from Mozambique’s east coast, Madagascar has developed various unique ecosystems in which animal and plant life has evolved, providing the island with a considerable number of endemic and exotic species.
Due to the country’s isolation from other land masses, several of the animal species indigenous to Madagascar have become synonymous with the nation.
As one of several threatened species on the island, the sifaka lemur is considered to be one of the rarest mammals on Earth and has become representative of Madagascar. Characterized by its white body, black face and long tail, the sifaka has been attributed the nickname “angel of the forest” and usually traverses through the trees, although one may see it leaping on the ground and understand why it has been associated with dancing.
Also found in the country is the Ploughshare tortoise, a critically endangered species illegally sold in exotic pet markets. Given the reptile’s enticement, only approximately 1,000 of them still exist, and their population is declining further after past habitat burning and hunting. With about 200 mature adults remaining in the wild, it is possible this species becomes extinct in the next 50 years.
Located in eastern Madagascar are the indri lemurs, which number fewer than 10,000 and are also critically endangered. Measuring up to 3’9”, the indri is the largest lemur species and captivates naturalists, although the animals may continue to decline in population due to habitat loss. One may still be able to hear the indri calls throughout the wild, though, and develop an understanding of their importance to the local communities.
Also somewhat representative of Madagascar is the baobab plant species. With trees reaching to 33-131-foot heights and growing 20 feet wide, the baobab contributes to picturesque landscapes in the south and west of the country.
Six of the nine species are endemic to Madagascar, and each displays a slightly red and beige trunk with a crown appearing like roots, giving the impression the tree has grown upside down.
Another Madagascan endemic species is the didierea madagascariensis, which is commonly known as the octopus tree. Resembling a shrub, this species is full of prickles and can grow up to 33 feet high. As the spines often form in whorls, the plant may appear like an octopus’ arms.
The tapia tree, which is located in central Madagascar, is a species used often by local communities. Given it produces a sweet fruit and shelters silkworm, those situated near the forests reap the plant’s benefits for economic perks at markets. Mushrooms and berries can also be obtained from the species, along with wood for fuel, which constitutes its primary utilization.
The plants and animals that have come to represent the country’s extraordinary wildlife have provided travelers with reasons to visit Madagascar, and conservation of the species is necessary to ensure the island’s ecosystems remain vibrant with endemic trees and creatures. With a continued spread of awareness regarding their beneficial nature, it is possible future generations can witness some of the country’s biodiversity in various forms.