Nature pictures from Madagascar

These images were taken by Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler over the course of several trips to Madagascar between 1997 and 2019.

The images are organized into galleries, the most popular of which are presented below.

The bottom of this page includes recent conservation news from Madagascar.

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Madagascar nature news


Three new species of frogs found nestled in Madagascar’s pandan trees (February 1, 2024)
- Scientists have described three new frog species that dwell exclusively in the spiky leaves of pandan trees in Madagascar’s eastern rainforests.
- While the frogs are new to science, locals have observed them for generations, and they’ve been given names in Malagasy.
- The frogs have a unique life cycle completely restricted to the trees, meaning they entirely depend entirely on intact pandan trees.
- Pandan trees, from the genus Pandanus, are threatened by deforestation driven by mining, agriculture and development, while slashing, burning and deforestation threaten Madagascar’s extraordinary biodiversity in general.


Beyond the myths: Anthropologist Alison Richard on Madagascar’s environmental realities and future (January 3, 2024)
- Madagascar is celebrated for its extraordinary biodiversity, characterized by remarkably high rates of endemicism. However, Madagascar is also synonymous with loss, particularly the extinction of its largest animal species and the degradation of habitats.
- The conventional wisdom holds that the island was entirely forested before human settlement, with early settlers decimating most of these forests. Alison Richard, a distinguished anthropologist, has challenged this traditional narrative of Madagascar’s environmental history by leveraging a growing body of research that suggests a more nuanced reality.
- In “The Sloth Lemur’s Song,” Richard weaves a captivating story covering the island’s geological past to its current conservation challenges. Her work critically assesses the narratives of blame, stemming from colonial history, that have influenced perceptions of Madagascar’s environmental issues.
- In a recent interview with Mongabay, Richard discussed her research and conservation efforts in Madagascar and beyond.


Photos: Top species discoveries from 2023 (December 27, 2023)
- Scientists described a slew of new species this past year, including an electric blue tarantula, two pygmy squid, a silent frog, and some thumb-sized chameleons.
- Experts estimate less than 20% of Earth’s species have been documented by Western science.
- Although a species may be new to science, it may already be well known to local and Indigenous people and have a common name.
- Many new species of plants, fungi, and animals are assessed as Vulnerable or Critically Endangered with extinction as soon as they are found, and many species may go extinct before they are named, experts say.


Madagascar group aims to protect wildlife from stray cats & dogs (November 21, 2023)
- In the biodiverse forests of Madagascar, stray cats and dogs pose threats to wildlife by hunting and harassing wild animals or transmitting diseases to them.
- The Mad Dog Initiative, an American NGO, runs annual sterilization and rabies vaccination campaigns to reduce the strays’ impact.
- However, it will take more time to achieve measurable impacts on wildlife, the group’s leaders say, and raising awareness among villagers and overcoming “fadys,” or Malagasy taboos, remains a challenge.


Newly described gecko from Madagascar a master of disguise (September 14, 2023)
- Madagascar is a hotspot for gecko diversity, and the latest to appear on the tree of life is Uroplatus garamaso.
- U. garamaso, with a length of 8.3-13.9 cm (3.3-5.5 in), is one of the larger leaf-tailed lizards inhabiting the island, but is still a master at hiding in plain sight.
- The gecko’s known range is restricted to the forests in the north of the island: Montagne des Français, Montagne d’Ambre, and Ankarana in the Diana region.


Can land titles save Madagascar’s embattled biodiversity and people? (August 14, 2023)
- Through its Titre Vert or Green Title initiative, the Malagasy government is opening up a path to land ownership for its most vulnerable citizens in the hopes it will help tackle hunger, internal migration, and forest loss.
- The state is using the initiative to lean on potential migrants to remain in the country’s deep south, where five years of failed rains have left 2 million people hungry, instead of migrating north, where they are often blamed for social tensions and for destroying forests.
- This March, the Malagasy government started work on a Titre Vert enclave in the Menabe region, a popular destination for migrants from the drought-hit south, to dissuade them from clearing unique dry forests to grow crops.
- Critics say the government is holding people back in a rain-starved region without providing enough support; in Menabe, backers of the project hope to provide ample assistance to get migrants out of the forests and onto their feet.


Madagascar signs new ‘sustainable’ tuna deal with the EU (August 7, 2023)
- In late June, Madagascar and the European Union struck a new four-year deal allowing fishing vessels flagged to EU countries to resume harvesting tuna in Madagascar’s waters after an unusual four-and-a-half-year gap.
- The EU says the deal benefits Madagascar by providing key funding to support fisheries governance, and civil society groups praised the Madagascar government for creating a more inclusive and transparent negotiating process than in the past.
- However, critics contend that the deal offers little benefit to the citizens of Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world, and enables European vessels to exacerbate the overfishing of Indian Ocean tuna stocks.


Villagers turn to charcoal made from bamboo to save a protected forest in Madagascar (July 7, 2023)
- Rice paddies have become silted up around Ankarafantsika National Park in northwestern Madagascar. To survive, local residents are forced to illegally exploit the forest’s natural resources.
- To reduce their dependency on the forest, local communities are planting the versatile bamboo species from Asia to make charcoal and restore watersheds.
- Although the exotic bamboo species can be used to protect the forest and watersheds, scientists raise concerns about the ecological impacts of its use.


Fire imperils Madagascar’s baobabs: Q&A with park director Diamondra Andriambololona (July 3, 2023)
- Kirindy Mite forest is a unique ecosystem that is home to three of Madagascar’s six endemic species of baobab trees.
- The forest is facing increasing anthropogenic pressure, especially from bushfires.
- Mongabay spoke with Diamondra Andriambololona, the director of Kirindy Mite National Park in southwestern Madagascar and the nearby Andranomena Special Reserve, about how the increase in fires is affecting the region’s unique forest and what is being done to reduce them.
- “The pressures on the forest will continue to increase as long as the people remain poor,” says Andriambololona.


Extreme reforestation: Baobab planters confront fires, loggers, cattle and more (June 6, 2023)
- In Madagascar, the August-to-December bushfire season wreaks havoc on the southwest and west of the island.
- Dry Forest, a young Malagasy NGO, is attempting an extreme form of reforestation to save the forest in Kirindy Mite National Park.
- In addition to the bushfires, the NGO faces many other challenges linked to local poverty.


10 nature attractions in Madagascar:

  • Masoala National Park: Masoala National Park is a large national park located on the Masoala Peninsula in northeastern Madagascar. It is home to a variety of ecosystems, including rainforests, mangroves, and coral reefs. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including lemurs, chameleons, and birds.
  • Isalo National Park: Isalo National Park is a protected area in southwestern Madagascar. It is home to a variety of landscapes, including sandstone formations, gorges, and waterfalls. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including lemurs and chameleons.
  • Berenty Private Reserve: The Berenty Private Reserve is a protected area in southern Madagascar. It is home to a variety of wildlife, including lemurs and birds.
  • Andasibe-Mantadia National Park: Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is a protected area in eastern Madagascar. It is home to a variety of ecosystems, including rainforests, grasslands, and wetlands. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including lemurs and birds.
  • Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park: Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is a protected area in western Madagascar. It is known for its unique karst formations, called tsingy, which are formed from ancient coral reefs. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including lemurs and chameleons.
  • Ankarana National Park: Ankarana National Park is a protected area in northern Madagascar. It is home to a variety of ecosystems, including rainforests, caves, and savannas. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including lemurs and chameleons.
  • Analamazaotra Special Reserve: The Analamazaotra Special Reserve is a protected area in eastern Madagascar. It is home to a variety of wildlife, including lemurs and chameleons.
  • Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park: Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park is a protected area in western Madagascar. It is home to a variety of ecosystems, including rainforests, grasslands, and wetlands. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including lemurs and chameleons.
  • Marojejy National Park: Marojejy National Park is a protected area in northeastern Madagascar. It is home to a variety of ecosystems, including rainforests, wetlands, and grasslands. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including lemurs and chameleons.
  • Montagne d'Ambre National Park: Montagne d'Ambre National Park is a protected area in northern Madagascar. It is home to a variety of ecosystems, including rainforests, wetlands, and grasslands. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including lemurs and chameleons.

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