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Flora and Fauna

Clad in armour but hardly protected: The Radiated Tortoise

They have not changed for millions of years and still fascinate people all over the world: tortoises. A particularly beautiful species lives in the south of Madagascar: the Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata). Its history begins long, long before the first people came to Madagascar. But it was not until 1802 that the Englishman George Shaw described the Radiated Tortoise. He …

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Life in drought and heat – The Malagasy collared lizard

Chalarodon madagascariensis

Only few animals can survive in Madagascar’s dry, hot south for long. One of them is the Madagascar sand lizard (Chalarodon madagascariensis). Madagascar has no large iguanas like you probably know iguanas from America. Instead the local iguanas are rather small, agile and swift – they are so special, that they got their own family, which exists nowhere else on …

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Life in colour: panther chameleons

Panther chameleons (Furcifer pardalis) belong to the most famous inhabitants of Madagascar and regularly populate the coastal areas of northwest Madagascar, across the north and on the east coast down to about 120 kilometres south of Toamasina (Tamatave). There seem to be no particular favourites among the populated habitats, even if one sees them particularly well in open, bush-covered areas. …

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The Malagasy Tree Boa

Because of many old legends and fairy tales it has a dubious reputation, but actually it is a fascinating forest dweller: The Malagasy Tree Boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis). It lives mainly in the rainforests of Madagascar’s east coast, but has also conquered other habitats such as the hot, dry southwest and south of the country. Even on some islands as well …

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A short, but colorful life – The Madagascan moon moth

One of the most beautiful lepidopterans of the Earth, but first of all one of the largest, lives in Madagascar’s rainforests: The Madagascan moon moth or comet moth (Argema mittrei). With a wingspan up to 20 cm, it exceeds nearly all lepidopterans worldwide, only the Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) from Asia, belonging to the same family of emperor moths (Saturniidae), …

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The giraffe necked weevil

One of the most famous, but also most bizarre bugs of Madagascar can be found in the eastern rainforests of the islands: Due to its longs neck, it is called giraffe necked weevil (Trachelophorus giraffa). The best time and places to find it are the national parks of Andasibe-Mantadia, Marojejy and Ranomafana in spring. In 1860, the French entomologist Henri …

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The not really fiery red frog

Madagascar’s dense, mystical rainforests offer a home to countless endemic (i.e. only here occurring) animals. Among them is a particularly colorful representative of the Madagascar frogs, a frog with the scientific name Boophis pyrrhus (from Greek pyrrhos = fire red). It can be found on the east coast and in the southern highlands of Madagascar, from Soanierana Ivongo near the …

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The angels of the forest: Silky sifakas

The Silky Sifaka (Propithecus candidus) is one of the most beautiful and special lemurs of Madagascar, but also one of the rarest. There are only about 250 sexually mature silk sifakas left in Madagascar, otherwise they do not occur anywhere else in the world. For comparison: In Asia alone there are still around 3000 to 5000 full-grown specimens of tigers …

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The Tree of Travellers

The Ravenala, better known as the tree of travellers (Ravenala madagascariensis), belongs to the strelitzia family, although it looks more like a palm tree. Although it is now widespread all over the world and is even cultivated as a decoration plant in some homes, it originates from Madagascar and only occurs naturally there. Ravenalas grow to an average height of …

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Darwin’s orchid

As early as 1802, French colonialists in Madagascar discovered a unique, white-flowering orchid whose waxy blossom had a diameter of a good 12 cm. They had never seen anything like it, and so it was also a Frenchman named Du Petit-Thouars, who 20 years later wrote down a description of the peculiar flower for the first time. He called it …

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