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Madagascar: Endemic Biodiversity Like Nowhere in the World

Lemurs in Madagascar
Madagascar: Endemic Biodiversity Like Nowhere in the World
on November, 07 2013

Let us explore Madagascar, an island country that sits in the Indian Ocean. The island is off Africa’s southeastern coast and includes various outlying islands. This nation is the fourth-largest island all over the world. The Republic of Madagascar was first known as Malagasy Republic. The Austronesian people coming through canoes from Borneo between 350 BCE and 550 BCE were the initial settlers.

Separation from subcontinents

Some 88 million years ago, Madagascar separated from India. Prehistoric records also show that it physically tore away from mainland Africa and has since become isolated. As a result of the separation from its two subcontinents, native plants and animals likewise developed in isolation. Today, more than 90% of Madagascar’s wildlife are in exclusive existence in the island and cannot be found in any other part of the earth.

Wildlife composition

Madagascar’s separation from other groups of land occurred during the Cenozoic Era, a period in the history of the earth that documents up to present. This span of age defines the current positions of continents and landmasses as well as their human, flora and fauna populations. Because Madagascar has been isolated for millions of years, its wildlife composition has expanded and evolved into a huge biodiversity of animal species that has become endemic in the island country.

Emergence of species

It is worthy to note that a number of Madagascar’s animals have descended from the same groups that remained in the island after it broke away from Gondwana. The others, a good number of them, are from the lineage of the animals that remained alive from the floating and swimming journeys that took them from Africa. Presently there are more than 200 existing mammal species with a hundred of them consisting of lemurs. Around 300 species of birds fly about the island nation while over 260 species of reptiles and 266 kinds of amphibians inhabit the territory’s different regions. Invertebrates such as earthworms, spiders, insects, and freshwater mollusks abound all around.

Eighth continent

The distinct and unique ecology of Madagascar and the fact that it is isolated from other landmasses has made ecologists to point out to the island as the eighth continent of the world. Meanwhile the Conservation International has listed the republic as a guarded biodiversity area. In present time, Madagascar’s myriad ecosystems and exceptional wildlife are at risk of intrusion by the fast increasing number of people.

Endangered ecosystem

Human activities continue to place Madagascar’s distinctive ecosystem in peril. When people arrived some 2,350 years ago, almost 90% of its lush forest has since disappeared. The common practice of burning trees to create a planting area for crops has caused most of the losses. This agricultural practice has caused the deterioration of the natural habitat of the island’s flora and fauna. The preservation of Madagascar’s national pride, its endemic wildlife, is sporadically challenged by the illegal harvests of trees in the forests and national parks. As a protective measure, the government is doing all it can to adapt certain development strategies to conserve what is left of its waning wildlife resources.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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