Past clients of JENMAN Island Safaris now use their private 18-day trip to Madagascar, coupled with their love for the island, as part of a presentation they give to people who’re interested in learning more about it. Full-to-bursting with fascinating information, it’s a talk that not only offers a unique glimpse into the sights and sounds of the island, but is also guaranteed to inspire wanderlust in absolutely everyone who is lucky enough to witness it.
The island of Madagascar is two-and-a-half times the size of Great Britain, clocking in at 1580km long and 750km at its widest point. There are four biomes that consist of:
- The Eastern Rainforest – which is home to the now protected remnant of a once extensive forest and receives 3555ml of rain each year;
- The Western Savanna;
- The South-West Spiny Forest – which only receives 300ml of rain annually; and
- The Extreme North – where think forest plants are found.
Madagascar is surprising in that it has no hoofed animals, no wildcat or dog species, and no poisonous snakes, toads, squirrels or woodpeckers. Despite this, it is home to 200 000 living organisms – 150 000 of which are endemic, which means that they are found nowhere else on Earth. This in itself partly explains the passion that these clients have for the island, which they hope to pass to others each time they do their presentation.
Despite there being so much about Madagascar that is not yet known, recently experts made several revelations regarding the Ais-ais, a strange lemur that was previously thought to be a squirrel. The Ais-ais is nocturnal and clocks in at the same size as a cat. It has long ears like a bat, a tail like a fox, eyes that don’t look straight ahead, spiky hair and a pink nose with rodent teeth that never stop growing. As if the Ais-ais didn’t sound strange enough, the third and fourth digits of each of its hand are twice as long as the others with claws at the end. It’s believed the Ais-ais functions in the same manner as a woodpecker – using its elongated digits to poke under tree bark for grubs.
Besides the Ais-ais, there are 100 species of lemur living on the island. Due to the rainforest environment in which they live, they have had to adopt certain strategies for survival, including hibernation, resting and conserving energy, seasonal fat storage, small group sizes, small brain sizes and female sexual dominance. Of all the lemurs, the ring-tailed lemur is considered Madagascar’s national animal, which the rest of us can understand due to the much-loved character of King Julian from the films of the same name as the island.
Already amazing in regards to its diversity of species, the diversity of plant life on the island is even more amazing. Sadly, however, the forests are under threat of destruction due to the greed of foreigners who want to exploit Madagascar’s natural wonders, wood, minerals and animals. The Bamboo Lemur, for example, is now listed as one of the world’s most endangered primates as a result of the bamboo forests falling at the hands of the industries like mining, farming, logging and even hunting.
Despite the magic and wonder of the island, Madagascar is troubled country where there rages a conservation dilemma. The pillaging of the land for personal gain is a crime not only against the Malagasy people, but also against the world at large. As one of the few last natural wonders we have, it’s important that effort is put into saving Madagascar from the ruins that so many other lands have become as a result of greed and desecration.
Madagascar is a magical island that is both hauntingly beautiful and infinitely memorable. A local Jenman Island Safari guide, who accompanies you on your journeys around the island, provides you with a unique glimpse into the culture and wonder of Madagascar, making the tour a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness a world unlike any other – as long as it may last.