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Madagascar wildlife

Madagascar broke away from the supercontinent of Gondwanaland over 65 million years ago, drifting 400 kilometres into the Mozambique Channel and in doing so creating an evolutionary bubble where flora and fauna could adapt and thrive. Indeed, it is said that over 80% of Madagascar wildlife is endemic, which makes Madagascar wildlife holidays some of the most exciting and unique on the planet. From breaching whales and egg cup sized lemurs, to curious chameleons and the strange cat-like carnivore known as the fossa, Madagascar is the perfect destination for anyone who wishes to get up close and personal on a wildlife holiday. Getting in such close proximity to the wildlife does mean that Madagascar is a great place for family safaris too, an educational experience, with more time spent exploring on foot, and really getting involved with the destination.


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Red ruffed lemur in Madagascar, November

Madagascar wildlife has many highlights, however, the true stars of the show are the enchanting lemurs, unique to Madagascar with over 100 species on the island. These prosimians, or pre-monkeys, have a cute and cuddly appearance, with bright eyes and soft fur and vary in shape, colour, size, and character. The largest lemur species, the indri, has an eerie call that echoes throughout the misty forests of the Andasibe National Park, whilst the ring-tailed lemur is better known and easy to spot in the southern territories. The aye-aye on the other hand, is the world’s largest (and weirdest!) nocturnal primate and uses echolocation to locate food, whilst the sprightly sifaka has a unique upright dancing technique.

Satanic leaf tailed gecko, Madagascar
Madagascar by Shannon Wild

The diversity of Madagascar wildlife does not end with lemurs though. This fourth largest island in the world is home to a variety of endemic and bizarre wildlife including a range of reptiles, such as chameleons. These vary in size from the enormous Parson’s chameleon to the world's tiniest, small enough to sit on your fingernail. Madagascar also plays host to some astonishing geckos such as the leaf-tailed gecko, which remains camouflaged until it opens its mouth to reveal a bright orange interior. The only amphibians found here are frogs, 99% of these are endemic, including the green-backed mantilla, similar to those found in South and Central America, a perfect example of wildlife filling the same niches as others elsewhere, whilst being totally unrelated.

Frog, Madagascar
Giraffe necked weavil, Madagascar

When it comes to insects and spiders, whether you like it or not, they are here in abundance, from massive millipedes to beetles. In fact, Madagascar’s list of about 100,000 creepy crawlies is growing daily, some outstandingly beautiful, with over 300 butterfly species, others perhaps not so visually appealing, but all friendly enough with nothing to fear as a human.

Whilst the above are some specific examples, the breadth of the diversity of Madagascar animals cannot be overstated; home to over 13,000 plant species and 849 animal species, with 39 endemic genera of birds of its 115. Giant land birds such as the elephant bird may have been driven to extinction, but there is so much more in the way of incredible flora, fauna and birdlife to this magical island that has escaped interference from the outside world.


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Why book with us

We are destination specialists

Our team of specialists have extensive on-the-ground knowledge and have all lived, guided or explored in great detail the destinations that they sell.

We are wildlife specialists

As a leading specialist operator we have excellent partnerships with naturalists and conservationists. We know our wildlife and do what we can to preserve its natural habitat.

We really care about our destinations

We frequently monitor the social, economic and environmental impact of our travel operations to ensure our trips are sustainable and ethical.

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