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Disappearing Species of Madagascar , Part III
- Disappearing Species of Madagascar, Part II, Birds.
With so many bird species to choose from, where does one start. Here is a just a few for the second of my hubs about the disappearing species of Mdagascar.
- Disappearing Species of Madagascar, Part I
Madagascar with its unique species of Flora and Fauna seems to be in trouble. I hope the conservationists and all of us who can will be able to slow down the process and maybe in some cases reverse it.
Madagascan Rosewood from the Family Dalbergia.
The Rosewood is a single stemmed tree which is deciduous and has a domed shaped crown made from beautiful lush green foliage. The trees grow as singles rather than in a group throughout the forest and are slow growing, but when mature can reach heights up to 40 metres and the trunk s can have a girth of 2.0metres.
The name rosewood refers to the timber that comes from these trees. It is very richly coloured, dense, strong and durable and because of this is highly prized in the manufacture of fine furniture, instruments and wooden ornaments and even chess pieces.
Because the timber from these trees is too dense to float when they are felled it also means the loss of a number of other trees. These are felled along the riverbanks and then made into rafts to float this precious and are wood to markets. From there the trunks are transported to ports in Madagascar and then shipped to China.
Sadly, there has been an enormous amount of illegal felling and selling of this rare and precious tree, which was put under protection by CITES from 1992. In March 2010 the Malagasy Government finally banned the export of this wood but only for a period of 2-5 years. Too Little Too Late.....probably.
Angonoka Tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora)
This tortoise which is endemic to Madagascar is the Rarest Land Tortoise in the world.
It has a highly domed shell which is light-brown in colour with prominent growth rings. The only ones that are left in the wild are found only on the island of Madagascar in the dry forests of the Baly Bay area which is in northwestern part of the island.
It prefers savanna, mangrove swamps and these dry forests to live in, and here it has a diet of shrubs, grasses, forbs, herbs and dead bamboo. The tortoise will also eat the dried faeces of bush-pigs and other carnivores.
Angonoka Tortoises reach sexual maturity at around 15yrs of age and theor season coincides with any seasonal rainfall. this is generally from mid January to the end of May. Mating and hatching go on at this time , but there can be up to 4 clutches per year laid with 1-6 eggs in each clutch.
This rarest of tortoises does have a natural predator in the Bush-pig and that along with the man-made threats of land clearance and being taken out of the wild and illegally sold for the Pet Trade has meant it is in a Vulnerable position in the wild. In Madagascar it is actually protected under law and any illegal capture and selling of these animals that comes to notice is immediately stopped and these oh so precious tortoises confiscated.
Madagascar or Malagasy Ground Boa
Madagascar or Malagasy Ground Boa (Acrantophis madagascariensis)
This species of Boa Constrictor is endemic to Madagascar and is a species of the Boidea Family
The females are larger and longer than the males and they grow to lengths of 10ft for the female and around 8ft for the male.They are the largest of the snake species on the island and are as their name says a constrictor and non-venomous.
Their colour patterns come in a pale-reddish brown mixed with grey with side markings as a series of black ovoids which are either bordered in white or have white centres and also there are reddish blotches. They live in sparse and open woodland and here like to shelter either under fallen debris, fallen trees or in the burrows of other animals. They will shed their skin a number of times each year and hibernate in the dry and cool winters.
Mating takes place after hibernation and the female may mate with several males.They are ovoviviparous, which means they give birth to young snakes and do not lay eggs. This she does after a gestation period of 4-6 months and will give birth to 4-6 babies(neonates). At birth they can be up to 24inches in length and can immediately feed on birds and small rodents.
In CITES these Boa Constrictors are listed as Threatened with Extinction, and under IUCN as Vulnerable. The species has dropped in numbers by at least 20% in the last 10years.
The threats to them come from deforestation, human population growth and agricultural and industrial development. They are also taken out of the wild for the Pet Trade as they are thought to make good pets. In fact the thinking is that they have been endangered since 1977