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After 90 million years of isolated evolution, the tropical island of Madagascar has one of the highest rates of endemism in the world.
An astonishing 90% of the plant and animal species on the island are found nowhere else. In total, seven plant families, five bird families, and five primate families are unique to Madagascar and surrounding islands. In the last 50 years, however, Madagascar’s environment has been devastated by logging and other extractive industries. Today, 90% of the original forest is gone, and consequences for the island’s terrestrial species have been dire.
As with other wildlife populations, amphibian and reptile numbers in the island’s mountainous interior have decreased dramatically. The Ankaratra Massif, an extinct volcanic range located in the center of Madagascar, is home to two Critically Endangered amphibians and a Critically Endangered gecko that survive in remnants of the region’s cloud forest. With much of their habitat gone, these animals face the real possibility of extinction. To provide a permanent sanctuary for these and other endemic species, Rainforest Trust is working with its local partner in Madagascar, Vondrona Ivon’ny Fampandrosoana (VIF), to establish a 20,558-acre protected area that will conserve an important piece of cloud forest habitat.
Ankaratra Massif, Madagascar
Williams bright-eyed frog (CR), Madagascar frog (EN), Marvelous gecko (CR)
Cloud forest, savanna
Illegal logging, uncontrolled fires, overgrazing
Creation of the Ankaratra Massif Protected Area
Vondrona Ivon’ny Fampandrosoana (VIF)
Price Per Acre
With over 240 species identified to date, an impressive diversity of amphibians inhabit Madagascar’s natural environment. Ninety-nine percent of these are endemic, found only on the island. While population declines plague many of Madagascar’s amphibians, Williams bright-eyed frog – whose entire population is found within the proposed Ankaratra Massif Protected Area – is one of the most threatened.
With its range restricted to mountain-top ecosystems, the frog’s survival depends upon the continued existence of these isolated areas. Much of the cloud forest, however, that once covered these mountains has been destroyed and Williams bright-eyed frog now persists in forest relics. •Another Critically Endangered frog species native to the Ankaratra Massif, the Madagascar frog, faces a similarly grave situation. The entire population of this species is found along a stream within the proposed protected area. •The total range of the Marvelous gecko, a Critically Endangered reptile, covers only 16 square miles. The proposed reserve will protect the last remnants of its original habitat. •The Ankaratra Massif is frequented by 53 bird species. The proposed reserve shelters more than a third of these, a relatively high species-richness for Madagascar. Birds frequenting the area include the Madagascar Sparrow-hawk, the Madagascar Cuckoo-hawk, and the Madagascar Harrier-hawk. •Five species of tenrecs, a diverse shrew-like mammal family unique to Madagascar, are found in the Ankaratra Massif.
According to conservative estimates, 40% of Madagascar’s primary forests have been cut down in the last 50 years; remaining forests have been thinned by 80%.
If current deforestation rates continue, all of the island’s rainforests – excluding those in protected areas and the steepest eastern mountain slopes – will be destroyed by 2025. Habitat destruction, poaching, and the illegal pet trade, seriously threaten many of Madagascar’s endemic species.
Composed of 20 ethnic groups, Madagascar’s human population maintains a diverse set of cultural traditions combining influences from India, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.
Despite cultural and language differences, the majority of those living on Madagascar share a dependence on subsistence agriculture and more than 80% live below the poverty line.
Thanks to the generous support of our Board members and other supporters who cover all of our operating expenses, Rainforest Trust is able to allocate 100% of donations to conservation action. No board member receives financial benefit and our staff salaries are modest.
Rainforest Trust is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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