Biodiversity of Madagascar

Biodiversity of Madagascar

The uniqueness of Madagascar’s biodiversity continues to fascinate and eco tourists continue to travel safely across the Island.


Madagascar Island has an exceptional diversity of nature and highest endemism on earth. Combined with the fact that much of its original forest cover and some of its most spectacular species, Madagascar is both one of the world’s most endangered hotspots, handful island and one of the top five of the world’s ‘mega diversity’.

Madagascar‘s privileged position in terms of biodiversity is based on its geological history and geographic placement. The fourth largest oceanic island behind Greenland, the New-Guinea and Borneo, has the shape of a ‘left foot’. Madagascar extends from the north to the south on 1 580 km and stretch from the East to West on about 500 km. The country could be divided into several compartments: the savannah, the western plain, the highlands, the cliffs and tropical forests of the east, the northern enclaves, the semi-deserted areas of the south and south-west, finally the sea and its Islands.

Madagascar has been separated from all other land masses 90 million years ago, meaning that most of its plants and animal life has evolved in isolation. This has resulted in very high levels of endemism with Madagascar.

In terms of species numbers, Madagascar is the second highest on the world list behind Brazil. Madagascar’s total plant diversity is estimated at 14 000 to 15 000 species, of which about 83% are endemic such us orchids, ravinala… and so one. For animals, the proportion is higher, example, for the primate: 97 species and 101 taxa occur naturally only on Madagascar. Especially lemurs are the most attractive, conspicuous, and best known of Madagascar’s wildlife. They are ideally suited to stimulate the growth of ecotourism. Moreover government environmental institution brings an important value through lemurs. Although for sport field, Madagascar’s rugby players brings the name of an endemic lemur ‘maki’.

For the birds, the total number of breeding bird species is relatively low, but endemism has a remarkably high number: five bird families and 37 genera are endemic of Madagascar.

Madagascar is one of the world’s ‘mega diversity’

All areas with a higher density of different species are classified among world’s mega diversity. Those are not necessarily where the environment is best protected but it is rather thanks to the type of ecosystem. Up to now, 17 countries are identified as mega diverse. They have the highest number of endemic species at least 5 000 endemic plants. Madagascar’s high endemism per unit area help to push the country to the top of the global conservation priority list below:

The world’s top biodiversity-rich continent is America, with 7 mega diverse countries: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Unites States, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela

Asia ranks the second, with 5 mega diverse countries: Philippines, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, China

Africa ranks number three, with 3 mega diverse countries: Madagascar, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of South Africa

Oceania ranks number 4, with 2 mega diverse countries: Australia, Papua New Guinea

Europe has no mega diverse country

We can say that a hectare of forest lost in Madagascar has a greater negative impact on global biodiversity than a hectare lost almost anywhere else.Madagascar has tourism as one of the pillars of the future development of the whole country, including especially ecotourism. The income in foreign currency generates revenue and create direct job for Malagasy people. Many of visitors go to national parks and protected areas during the travel time in Madagascar and you can explore and enjoy it by cycling.

hhf – Cycle Madagascar™

© Momotas Sarl, Antsirabe

November 2016













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