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Flora and Fauna

Specialists with sharp spines: The Lowland Streaked Tenrec

Streifentenrek

Most animals that only occur in Madagascar are very special. Also the streaked tenrec has its peculiarities and is considered to be the most highly specialized of all 31 tenrec species. They belong to the hedgehog tencres – they have spines like hedgehogs, but are actually not even related to the hedgehogs. Also the spines are not completely genuine: It …

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Ranomafana’s miniature flowers: Aerangis citrata

Aerangis citrata

Aerangis citrata, also called Manta in Malagasy, is found on the entire eastern side of Madagascar. Wherever there is high humidity and permanently warm regions, it feels at home. From the coast up to 1500 m above sea level you can find this orchid. Like many orchids of Madagascar, Aerangis citrata lives epiphytically, i.e. it grows on branches of trees. …

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The gardeners of the forest: Red-bellied lemurs

Eulemur rubriventer

One does not often meet red-bellied lemurs (Eulemur rubriventer) in Madagascar, but they play an important role in the rainforest’s fragile ecosystem. Only male wear the eponymic red belly, females are white or cream colored on chest and belly. Males also have white fur below their eyes which lacks in females. At average, red-bellied lemurs weigh one and a half …

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An east-west-conflict: Red-fronted lemurs

Rotstirnmaki

In red-fronted lemurs, colour has been distributed inequally: Only males bear the eponymic red forehead. In females, this area is grey coloured. Both genders weigh between two and three kilograms and become only half a meter in size, measured without tail. Until 2008, scientists thought the red-fronted lemur to be a subspecies of the similar looking rufous brown lemur or …

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Madagascar’s giant hognose snake

Leioheterodon madagascariensis auf Nosy Mangabe

The Madagascar giant hognose snake (Leioheterodon madagascariensis) probably belongs to Madagascar’s most common snakes. You can meet them almost everywhere on the island: Rainforests of the east coast are part of its home range as well as the hot and dry west oft Madagascar. They can even deal with widely devastated forests. Gardens, campgrounds and hut villages may also be …

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Madagascar’s bee-eaters

Bienenfresser

Bee-eaters (Merops superciliosus) are among the most colourful birds in Madagascar. Here and there it is called olive bee-eater. Including its tail this small bird measures up to 30 cm in length, and it is not even 50 g heavy. It is not easy to differentiate males and females by colour: Both wear a splendid green plumage with a beige-reddish …

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Madagascar’s famous ring-tailed lemurs

Katta Portrait

They are the unofficial mascots of Madagascar and probably the most famous Malagasy lemurs: The ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta). Their portraits grace the logo of Madagascar National Parks (MNP), countless t-shirts and company emblems. A full grown ring-tailed lemur weighs maximally 3.5 kg. The ringed tail is with 60 cm longer than the whole body which is only 40-45 cm. …

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Fascinating predators: Idolomorpha madagascariensis

Idolomorpha madagascariensis

Praying mantises are ill-reputed as man eating and murderous within the animal kingdom. And the triangular-shaped head lets them look like real aliens. But there is more to it than that! They are fascinating insects, and an especially impressing species among them is Idolomorpha madagascariens from Madagascar. It exceeds most Malagasy praying mantis with a body length of filigree seven …

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The water tank of the South

Cyphostemma montagnacii

Madagascar’s south put forth many quirky, mostly water saving plants. An especially strange and unique plant is Cyphostemma montagnacii. The shape of this plant seems to be not of this world: A small, gnarly stem merges into long vines. Indeed this strange plant belongs to the grapevine family. Its branches need a tree which they can climb up and which …

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Strong together: The Sakalava weaver

Sakalavaweber

The small, only 25 g weighing Sakalava weaver (Ploceus sakalava) only occur in Madagascar. As the name indicates, they belong to the weaver birds and are widely distributed around the island: Everywhere where the eponymous tribe of the Sakalava lives. This is mainly western Madagascar; from the deep, hot and dry South to the North. Sakalava weaver prefer dry areas. …

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