Speciality Travel

Madagascar – a birder’s paradise


If you noticed the DreamWorks movie Madagascar, you would be forgiven for getting very confused about what kind of wildlife inhabits this huge, Indian Ocean island off the south-eastern coast of Africa. There aren’t any penguins, and no escapees from Central Park Zoo. What you’ll discover, nevertheless, is a unprecedented hotpot of biodiversity: 90% of the wildlife on Madagascar is discovered nowhere else on earth. The chook watching specifically is second to none.

Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island, and located simply off Africa’s east coast. Despite its proximity to Africa, it was actually traditionally linked to the Indian landmass, to not Africa, and this explains a few of its geological make-up, in addition to the sorts of wildlife that lives there. There are two seasons – a sizzling, wet season round January to March, and a heat, dry season from April to December – and the panorama varies from outstanding massifs and plateaus, to grasslands and deciduous forests.

To date, 285 species of birds have been recorded in Madagascar, of which 105 are distinctive to the island: if in case you have a life listing of birds you wish to see, Madagascar is a vital addition to your travel locations. We have talked about only a few of the endemic birds right here, however there are loads extra to identify!

Meller’s duck, related in look to a mallard, was launched to Mauritius from Madagascar, however is now actually solely present in its unique habitat, having confronted stiff competitors from home geese when it went overseas. Listed on the IUCN Red List as endangered, the Meller’s duck lives solely on the jap coast of Madagascar, and even its habitat right here is lowering as human improvement encroaches.

Only lately found is the Madagascar Pochard. It was considered extinct, however breeding pairs have been noticed on Madagascar’s Lake Matsaborimena in 2006, a lot to the shock (and pleasure) of conservationists, and an incubation programme has now elevated the inhabitants to round 80 birds. The best place to see them is on the captive breeding centre in Antsohihy.

One of essentially the most iconic of Madagascan birds is the Madagascar ibis, or crested wooden ibis. With colouring akin to a pheasant, a naked head and green-blue crest, it’s discovered within the forests and woodlands of the island, although sadly in lowering numbers. Deforestation threatens the birds’ pure habitat, and although it does have protected standing, it’s however illegally hunted. It is usually doable to see the ibis’ platform nests, on which the feminine will lay three eggs at a time, even when the birds themselves are usually not current.

One of the most well-liked sightings, and fortunately of a species which is flourishing, is the Madagascar pygmy kingfisher. Found predominantly within the dry, deciduous forests within the west of the island, it’s a squat little chook with a brick-red plumage, white chest, and lengthy, skinny beak.

Birders, and people with a extra common curiosity in pure historical past, ought to intention to spend at the least two weeks in Madagascar with a view to absolutely admire the island’s numerous ecosystems and the birdlife which resides there. Ensure that your itinerary contains the jap rainforests of Andasibe and Mantadia, the Ranomofana National Park, the Spiny Desert, and the dry grasslands and forests of Isalo and Zombitse. Combine your chook watching with a specific amount of leisure and high-quality meals on the French-run Relais de la Reine, surrounded by the mountainous panorama of the Isalo National Park, or retreat to the magnificent non-public island that’s Nosy Ankao for Malagasy delicacies, azure waters, and diving on the unparalleled Miavana resort.

Laura Burdett-Munns is Managing Director at Africa Exclusive. Africa Exclusive has been creating the best tailored safaris since 1990, specialising in luxurious lodging in stunning distant locations.

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