The Amazing Animals of Madagascar
Published: 15 March 2015
Madagascar, to the east of Africa, is quickly becoming one of the most sought after adventure holiday destinations. And it’s no surprise, as this island nation has a bevy of great options from scuba diving and snorkelling to sea kayaking, water skiing, kite surfing, quad biking and fishing. But one of the best highlights of holidays in Madagascar still remains sighting the country’s incredible wildlife. Its isolation from the other continents has made it home to wondrous flora and fauna - about 150,000 species can be found here that are found nowhere else in the world! Ecologists even go so far as to claim that Madagascar should really be called the ‘eighth continent.’
The Flexicover team give you the low-down on some of the most amazing animals you won’t find anywhere else on the planet below. Try spotting these on your Madagascar wildlife holidays!
Imagine an animal with the snout of a dog and the body of a cat. It’s not a strange Picasso meets Mother Nature meets Egyptian mythology figment of imagination, but the fossa. Fossas are mammals and one of the few predators to be found in Madagascar. Growing up to 2 metres long with retractable claws and long tails, these animals are nocturnal and eat mostly lemurs though they’re also known to target reptiles, birds, mammals and livestock. Unfortunately, fossa sightings have become quite rare thanks to habitat destruction and indiscriminate killing for attacking livestock. They are found in forested areas around the island, mainly on land with an elevation of more than 2000 metres. If you really want to see them, you may have to invest in a proper Madagascar safari.
Madagascar is the only place on Earth that is home to the aye-aye, a nocturnal primate that lives on trees. Apart from being found nowhere else, it is also the only primate who uses echo-location to find its food! Aye-ayes tap on trees to listen for wood-boring insects which they then pull out with their long middle fingers. They have large ears, big eyes, long opposable toes and long tails. This makes seeing in the dark, finding food and staying on trees easy, but their strange appearance has led locals to consider them as omens of bad luck. Whether omens or not, aye-ayes definitely seem to have bad luck – they’re currently considered endangered.
While there are a number of other animals that are quite rare and found only on the island, nothing beats the sight of a duck that was once thought extinct – the Madagascar Pochard. In 2006, 22 individuals were found on Lake Matsaborimena. A breeding program in 2009 has now increased the Pochard population considerably. These medium-sized ducks can stay underwater for up to two minutes, are great divers and eat invertebrates, seeds and aquatic plants. While concerns still remain about the lake as an ideal habitat, viewing a Pochard, even in captive breeding centres is something most nature enthusiasts would not miss for the world on their Madagascar holidays.
Plan your Madagascar packages with care and keep a look out for fossas, aye-ayes, pochards and a host of other amazing animals even as you take in the beautiful beaches, adventure sports and wonderful forests of this marvellous destination.