Wildlife of Madagascar

Mention Madagascar to travel-hungry adventurers and it conjures up images of an exotic and remote landscape, home to some of the rarest creatures on the planet.

Lemur in Madagascar

Lemur in Madagascar

More than 80% of Madagascar’s plants and animals can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Here’s a look at some of the rare animals you might see on the island.

1. Lemurs

Probably the most famous inhabitants are its 33 species of lemurs. All are endemic to the island, with scientists continuing to discover new species.

Some of the most well-known include:

 
  • Ring-tailed lemur – living in the southern and western dry forests of the island, these highly sociable creatures live in groups of up to 30 largely female dominated communities.
  • Sifakas – the ‘dancing’ lemurs found mainly in the dry forests of the West and South. They get their nickname from their dance-like movement, as they walk on hind legs while moving their arms about.
  • Dwarf lemur – small nocturnal lemurs found throughout Madagascar.
  • Aye-Aye – another nocturnal lemur that lives in the rainforests but is threatened by extinction due to deforestation and hunting.
  • Indri – living in the rainforests of the East coast, the Indri is the largest living lemur in the world. It has a distinct black and white coat, and an eerie sounding call.

2. Fossa

Fossa

Fossa

A large cat-like predator, there are very few of these creatures still in existence in Madagascar. The Fossa’s stealth and secretive habits make it difficult to track. But natural scientists believe its facing extinction due to the destruction of its habitat, and hunting by humans as it ventures into populated areas looking for food.

3. Birds

Of the 258 bird species found on Madagascar, some 115 are endemic. They can be found in parks and forests around the island, and include:

  • Madagascar Lovebird
  • Red tailed Vanga
  • Collared Night Jar
  • Marsh Owl
  • Sparrowhawk of Madagascar
  • Madagascar Wood Rail
  • Rufous headed Ground Roller

4. Chameleons

 

Over half of the world’s species of chameleons are found on Madagascar, including the recently discovered Furcifer Timoni.

Some of the smallest chameleons on the island are the Brookesia, measuring just over an inch. These tiny creatures live in the forest undergrowth across the island.

5. Amphibians

With more than 300 species of frogs on Madagascar, an amazing 99% are endemic to the island. Frogs are the only amphibians found here, there are many beautiful species including:

  • Mantella – who use their bright colours to scare off predators
  • Tomato Frog – brightly coloured frog that releases a sticky secretion to protect against larger predators
  • Mantidactylus – hides from predators using its heavily camouflaged skin.

6. Fish

Scorpion fish

Scorpion fish

The seas around Madagascar are brimming with fish. The area offers superb diving sites for all levels. Check out our article on the top 5 diving sites off Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina.

Where to stay?

If you’re looking for a place to escape from it all, Tsarabanjina is a by-word for laid-back luxury. Get the low-down on this beautiful island lodge – Spotlight on Lodge Tsarabanjina,Madagascar.

Send us your wildlife photos  

And if you’ve already travelled to Madagascar, we’d love to see your wildlife photos. You can post them to the Constance Facebook page.

Holiday inspiration: Madagascar – walks on the wild side

Bungalow at Lodge Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Bungalow at Lodge Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, is brimming with lush forests, endemic wildlife, coral reefs and mile upon mile of beautiful beaches.

Visitors to the island are spoilt for choice when it comes to discovering the natural landscape. There are a number of different walks and tours you can do around the island, depending on how adventurous you want to be and your fitness levels.

Easy walking – Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

Lemur, Madagascar

Lemur, Madagascar

If you prefer to see the island’s best known animals – the tree-dwelling lemurs – without too much difficulty, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is an easy drive east from the capital Antananarivo. Andasibe (also known as Perinet) and Mantadia are, in fact, two parks adjacent to each other.

At Andasibe there are well marked, flat trails through the lush humid forest covered with moss, ferns and over 100 species of orchid that bloom from September – January.

Due to the number of visitors to the park, the wildlife is fairly used to humans. You’re likely to see the largest lemur, the indri, as well as bamboo and brown lemurs. Their loud calls echo through the forests in the early morning and again in the late afternoon.

There are over 100 different species of birds including the Madagascar baza, wagtail, yellowbrow and vanga. You’ll also find chameleons, geckos and a host of insects in the thick undergrowth.

Mantadia is larger and more remote than its neighbour, situated 15km north of Andasibe. Less visited by tourists, the trails are more varied, steeper and can be slippery after rain. There are several short circuits to choose from.

The park is home to many lemurs including the rare black and white ruffed lemurs. Rare birds including mesites, ground rollers, greenbuls and asitys have all been spotted here.

For the more adventurous – Ankarana National Park

Chameleon, Madagascar

Chameleon, Madagascar

If you like the idea of wildlife but also want to get off the beaten track and enjoy a challenging hike, then Ankarana National Park in the north of the island is the place to head. It’s recommended that you hire a guide to take you into the park.

Ankarana’s defining feature is the ‘tsingy’ – spectacular eroded limestone spires, set against tropical rainforest, deciduous forest, lakes, caves and canyons.

The reserve has a high number of primates, as well as large populations of crowned lemurs, black lemurs and dwarf lemurs. There are some 100 species of birds, as well as reptiles and frogs. The labyrinth of caves is home to 14 different species of bat and the world’s only cave-living crocodiles. Some of Madagascar’s endemic Baobab trees can also be found here.

There are a number of half day hikes you can take into the reserve.  If you’re looking for a longer trek, consult with your guide about options that can take in all of the locations listed below. The three entry points to the park are:

  • Mahamasina – the most accessible
  • to the West near Amboandriky, which requires a 4×4
  • North at Matsaborimanga, only accessible during the dry season.

For nature lovers looking for an all-out challenge – Marojejy National Park

Frog, Madagascar

Frog, Madagascar

If you want wild, breathtaking and unspoilt natural landscapes then Marojejy National Park to the North East of the island is undoubtedly one of the most impressive places you could visit in the world.

Some 90% of the park is covered with original primary forest. For years the park was only open to scientists, and so has remained relatively untouched. Marojejy was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

Marojejy National Park is just one of two sites where the highly endangered silky sifaka lemur can be found, along with the Indri, bamboo and Weasel sportive lemurs among others. There are over 100 bird species, including the helmet vanga and short legged ground roller, some 60 frogs, and geckos and chameleons. There are at least 275 species of ferns and over 50 varieties of palms.

Typically, visitors to the park explore during a strenuous three day hike, entering the park at the main entrance of Andapa.

Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Our luxury resort, Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina, is situated on the beautiful island of Madagascar. For more details and booking, visit the website.