Monday, 6 June 2011

615 new species in Madagascar... and counting

The WWF recently reported that, in little more than a decade, over 615 new species have been discovered in the island of Madagascar - of Disney cartoon fame - which sits just off the East Coast of Africa. With record numbers of mammals, plants amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates recorded, most notable finds include Berthe's mouse lemur - the world's smallest known primate, the aptly named cork bark leaf-tailed gecko and the 4cm-long Komac's golden orb spider.

The WWF commented that Madagascar's isolation from the African continent and varied topography make for a hot-bed of biodiversity. With habitats found in deep rainforests, high mountain terrain and coral beaches, Madagascar's diversity is immense. But they also pointed out that the unique environment in which Madagascar's species thrive make them very vulnerable to changes and losses to their habitats. Which an ever-expanding population, political conflict, escalation of slash and burn agriculture and continuous scramble for valuable resources, this ecosystem is far from secure.

Mark Wright, conservation science adviser at WWF-UK, told the Guardian that local action and concern is at the root of Madagascar's conservation and that, although much work and greater environmental citizenship is still needed, there is a growing consciousness towards sustainability amongst local people.

Read full story at: The Guardian

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