Madagascar Wildlife

Madagascar wildlife is among the most varied and unique in the world. The island of Madagascar split off from the African continent about 165 million years ago and then from the Indian subcontinent about 70 million years ago. The island's long isolation means that many animals in Madagascar developed independently from other species in the world, making for many species unique to Madagascar. In fact, Madagascar has 5 percent of the plant and animal species of the world, among which 80 percent are unique to Madagascar.


Lemurs in Madagascar are among the island's most sought-after wildlife for tourists. Found nowhere else in the world, there are 99 species of lemur on the island. Known for their large reflective eyes, lemurs in Madagascar range from the tiny 0.05-pound Madame Berthe's Mouse Lemur to the 22-pound Indri lemur. In the past, Madagascar had several massive species of lemur, some weighing more than 500 pounds, but these have all become extinct since humans first settled on Madagascar some 2,000 years ago. These small primates live in groups in a matriarchal society, and for the most part spend most of their time in trees. Unfortunately, the lemur's natural habitat is the rain forest, but since the arrival of humans, about 90 percent of the island's natural rain forest has been destroyed, putting the lemur's survival at risk. Almost all of Madagascar's 99 species of lemur are classified as rare, vulnerable, or endangered.

Tourists interested in glimpsing the lemurs in Madagascar may have a good chance of doing so at some of the national parks that aim to preserve the biodiversity of the island. Amber Mountain National Park, for example, is home to seven species of lemur as well as frogs, geckos, chameleons, snakes, and 73 different bird species, many of them unique to Madagascar. The Beza Mahafaly Reserve also has several lemur species, and the Ranomafana National Park, with its densely forested hills, is one of the most popular destinations for safari or a wildlife tour in Madagascar.

Other unique species of Madagascar wildlife include the fossa, a cat-like animal related to the civet, as well as other similar carnivorous mammals. The tenrec is also one of the unique animals in Madagascar; these shrew-like animals are greatly diverse in appearance, with the Web-Footed Tenrecs resembling river otters and the Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec resembling the hedgehog.

In addition to the rare mammals such as the lemur and fossa, tourists with the goal of glimpsing the Madagascar wildlife will likely get a chance to see some of the many chameleon species that are unique to the island, as well as many species of bats, birds, and the endangered Madagascar sea turtle. Taking a tour of the many national parks, such as the spectacular karst peaks and forests of Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, are likely to yield many glimpses of the rare animals in Madagascar, but many animals can also be seen near the tourist resorts of Sainte Marie, where humpback whales are a common sight in the summer months, and even the mass tourist hotspot of Nosy Be.



Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, together with the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict...

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