Let’s play a little game. Take a minute and let your imagination flow. What pops into your mind when thinking of Madagascar? Is it nature? Amazing wildlife? Zoo-like forests? Plains full of roaming beasts?
The reality, ladies and gentlemen, is different. In fact, there are no wild animals larger than a small dog. Wild animals are limited to the today’s remaining forests mostly turned into national parks and owned by the government. One can drive for days through the amazing landscape and see virtually nothing but a few domesticated zebus. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, the impact of hunting and deforestation* has decimated animal populations for sure. Secondly, the broad biological diversity in the forests is also not always obvious. Some animals are nocturnal, others are shy of humans or just rare and many fascinating animals, such as the world’s smallest chameleon for example, are simply tiny. When seeking for this country’s wildlife, it is best to adjust your focus to smaller scale, look carefully around you, be patient and never underestimate your local guide. Another thing about Madagascar is: you are obliged to hire a guide everywhere you go. Usually they know a lot about their areas and especially do they see things you would never discover on your own. We actually found ourselves being fascinated of insects. Seriously, in Madagascar even insects become interesting.
But let us start with the cutest ones: the lemurs. Did you know there are 12 different types of lemurs? The long-tailed, monkey-like animals with catlike faces are only found in Madagascar.
*Deforestation or also known as slashing and burning in Madagascar is an ongoing and serious environmental issue. It is stated that Madagascar lost 80 to even 90% of its original forest cover. When humans arrived to the island more than 2000 years ago the forest had to make space for people and for the uncountable ‘rizières’ (rice paddy fields) ever so widespread.
The chameleons are among Madagascar’s most famous animals. Despite their ability of changing colours these reptiles are very interesting: did you know their eyes swivel independently of each other? Or did you know their tongue is sticky and shoots out to catch pray?
The assumed to be dangerous ones: according to the several guides we met there are no poisonous frogs or snakes on Madagascar. Which only leaves us with the scorpion.
People we were not kidding. Insects are some of the most interesting creatures living on the island. They come in shapes and forms beyond our imagination. Wouldn’t someone point them out to you, you’d definitely miss them. They look like blossoms, leaves or just like the ground.
For those who have not had enough yet of the cutest things on earth called lemurs: check out the videos we posted on instagram.
And by the way should you ever be wondering where we are or where we’ve been: see the entire route here.