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First record of Fossa Cryptoprocta ferox in Mariarano Forest, Madagascar

Small Carnivore Conservation 52 & 53: 4555
First record of Fossa Cryptoprocta ferox in Mariarano forest,
Gareth Kerry Hamilton MANN1, Peter LONG2, Felix RAKOTONDRAPARANY3, Sam THE
1 Department of Zoology and
Entomology, Rhodes University,
PO Box 94, Grahamstown 6140,
South Africa.
2 Biodiversity Institute,
Department of Zoology,
Tinbergen Building, South Parks
Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK.
3 Département de Biologie
Animale, Faculté des Sciences,
Université Antananarivo. PO
Box 906, Antananarivo 101,
4 DBCAM, Lot II A 93L,
Anjanahary, Antananarivo 101,
5 School of Ocean and Earth
Science, National Oceanography
Centre, University of
Southampton, Waterfront
Campus, Southampton, SO14
3ZH, UK.
Gareth K. Hamilton Mann
Associate editor:
Frank Hawkins
ISSN 1019-5041
Madagascar is the worldʼs fourth-largest island and a global biodiversity hotspot with an
abundance of endemic mammalian fauna (Myers et al. 2000, Mittermeier et al. 2005).
However, many of these species are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation (Irwin et
al. 2010), as Madagascarʼs indigenous forest cover has been reduced by an estimated
43.85% from the 1950ʼs to the year 2000 (Harper et al. 2007). Mammalian carnivores tend
to be especially vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation due to their relatively large
We surveyed the carnivore community in two patches of forest around
Mariarano village in north-western Madagascar using camera traps. Cameras
were set along trails in the forest and were active for a total of 517 trap
nights. We recorded the presence of two indigenous carnivore species, Fossa
Cryptoprocta ferox and Western Falanouc Eupleres major, and three
introduced carnivore species; Small Indian Civet Viverricula indica, domestic
dogs Canis familiaris and domestic cats Felis catus. This is the first record of
C. ferox in the Mariarano forest area. We discuss the significance of this
finding, as well as a potential extirpation of E. major in the Matsedroy forest
Keywords: Camera trapping, deciduous forest, Eupleres major, Eupleridae
Premier signalement de Fossa Cryptoprocta ferox dans la forêt
Mariarano, Madagascar
Nous avons sondé la communauté de carnivores dans deux parcelles de forêt
autour du village de Mariarano dans le nord-ouest de Madagascar à lʼaide de
pièges photographiques. Des caméras ont été fixées le long des sentiers dans
la forêt et ont été actives pour un total de 517 nuits de piégeage. Nous avons
enregistré la présence de deux espèces indigènes de carnivores, le Fossa
Cryptoprocta ferox et le Falanouc occidental Eupleres major, et trois espèces
de carnivores introduits; la Petite civet indienne Viverricula indica, la chien
domestique Canis familiaris et le chat domestique Felis catus. Ceci est le
premier enregistrement de C. ferox dans la zone de la forêt Mariarano. Nous
discutons de la signification de cette découverte, ainsi que dʼune disparition
potentielle de E. major dans la parcelle de forêt Matsedroy.
Mots clés: Eupleres major, Eupleridae, forêt de feuillus, piégeage-caméra
Cryptoprocta ferox in Mariarano forest, Madagascar
Small Carnivore Conservation 52 & 53: 4555 46
spatial requirements (Woodroffe & Ginsberg 1998). In Madagascar, this situation is
particularly acute, as relatively few studies have been done on the endemic carnivore
species. This lack of data has resulted in carnivores being excluded from formal
conservation plans for Madagascar (Kremen et al. 2008). Improved knowledge of the
distribution, habitat preferences and disturbance tolerance of Madagascarʼs indigenous
carnivores is thus of critical importance to their future conservation.
Our study presents results of a camera trapping survey conducted in remnant patches
of western dry deciduous forest around Mariarano village located approximately 50 km
north-west of Mahajanga in western Madagascar and builds on an existing dataset (see
Evans et al. 2013). These forest patches are not formally protected, and are threatened by
illegal timber extraction, charcoal production and clearing for agriculture (Washington et
al. 2009, Long et al. 2012). Nevertheless, the forests around Mariarano contain a wide
variety of lemur, reptile and bird species, including threatened species such as Coquerel's
sifaka Propithecus coquereli, Leaf-tailed Geckos Uroplatus sp. and Madagascar Fish Eagle
Haliaeetus vociferoides.
Since 2009, a long-term monitoring project of the areaʼs biodiversity has been
running collaboratively by Operation Wallacea, an international NGO, Development and
Biodiversity Conservation Action for Madagascar, a community-based Malagasy
conservation NGO, local community forest management groups, and the University of
Antananarivo. Biodiversity surveys are done annually from June to August, during the local
dry season. While most species are readily observed by the multidisciplinary teams who
undertake the monitoring, indigenous carnivores are cryptic and seldom directly observed.
Camera traps have been found to be the most effective means of gathering information on
carnivore species at Mariarano (Evans et al. 2013). Our study aimed to gather data on
carnivores in the Mariarano forest as part of the ongoing monitoring programme.
Materials and methods
Study areas
We sampled two discrete patches of forest in the vicinity of Mariarano village (see Figure
1). Mariarano forest (also known as Ankatsabe forest) borders Mariarano village on three
sides (North, East and South), while the area to the west of Mariarano village has been
cleared for cultivation. Sampling routes around Mariarano therefore sampled the western
and central portions of Mariarano forest. In 2014, new sampling routes were demarcated to
the west of Antafiemeva, a village on the eastern fringe of Mariarano forest. These new
routes allowed for systematic sampling of the eastern side of Mariarano forest.
We also sampled in the area around Matsedroy Station, located in Matsedroy forest
(also known as Analabe forest), which is located approximately 5 km to the west of
Mariarano village. Matsedroy forest is separated from Ankatsabe by a broad strip of
Mann et al.
47 Small Carnivore Conservation 52 & 53: 4555
cultivated land on either side of the Mariarano River. Matsedroy forest was noticeably more
degraded than Mariarano forest, with signs of recent deforestation evident (Ibouroi et al.
Figure 1. Map of the study area showing the position of the study area in Madagascar (inset), and
locations of camera stations used in 2014. Forest patches are indicated by dark grey, intermediate-
grey areas are wetland and riverine areas, while light grey represents open savannah areas with little
tree cover.
We set 22 unbaited Bushnell TrophyCam HD camera traps along the existing network of
seven sampling routes in the Mariarano forest, and four sampling routes in Matsedroy
forest (Figure 1). Survey routes range from 1.7 to 3.6 km in length, and typically two
cameras were placed on each survey route a minimum of 1 km apart. Camera sites were
chosen on the basis of evidence of terrestrial mammal activity (i.e., tracks and scats), as
well as the advice of local guides. Two of the shorter routes (length ~1.6 km) only
contained single camera sites, while additional cameras were positioned on two other,
relatively long, sampling routes. A further two cameras were placed in opportunistic
locations away from sampling routes. All cameras were set with their sensors
approximately 30 cm high, and were programmed to record bursts of three photographs,
with a 10-second gap in between capture events. We collected data from late June to late
July 2014. The GPS coordinates of each camera site were recorded using a Garmin
Cryptoprocta ferox in Mariarano forest, Madagascar
Small Carnivore Conservation 52 & 53: 4555 48
GPSMAP 62s. Sampling effort was measured in trap nights; i.e., a 24-hour period from
midday to midday.
All animals recorded by the camera traps were identified to species level, and these
data were entered into a spreadsheet together with the date, time and camera station at
which the animal was recorded. Domestic animals were not included in our analyses, apart
from domestic cats Felis catus and dogs Canis familiaris that did not appear to be
accompanied by people. Dogs accompanied by people were assumed to be under human
control, and therefore less likely to actively hunt wildlife, both due to social taboos, or
faddy (Jones et al. 2008) and the dogs being fed rather than needing to hunt wildlife to
survive. We assumed that repeated captures of the same species within one hour at a
camera station were non-independent recaptures of the same individual, and therefore
excluded these from subsequent analyses. Species accumulation curves were plotted for the
area as a whole and for the individual forest patches using EstimateS version 9.2 (Colwell
2006). If the species accumulation curve did not reach an asymptote we used the
Abundance Coverage Estimator (ACE) to estimate the total number of species likely to be
present in the area (Chazdon et al. 1998).
We obtained data from 20 camera traps that were active for a total of 517 trap nights, with
each station active for a mean period of 25.85 (± SD) trap nights (± 6.39 days). Five camera
traps were stolen during the course of the study, and no data were obtained from four of
these. We recorded 78 independent captures of wildlife, of which 41 were of feral domestic
cats and dogs. Cats were recorded 21 times at nine sites across the study area, while dogs
were recorded 20 times at eight sites. Bushpigs Potamochoerus larvatus were the most
frequently photographed wildlife species, recorded 25 times across seven sites. Five
carnivore species were recorded in total; all five were present in Mariarano forest, but only
three were recorded in Matsedroy forest. Carnivore capture records are summarised in
Table 1. Species accumulation curves reached asymptote for Matsedroy forest (ACE =
3.00), but not for Mariarano forest (ACE = 5.41) or the area as a whole (ACE = 6.11),
suggesting that overall camera trapping effort was insufficient to record all carnivore
species in the area. Evans et al. (2013) reported local familiarity with Ring-tailed
Mongoose Galidia elegans, and it is possible that this species is present in the area but was
not recorded. Detailed records for wild carnivores are provided below:
Fossa Cryptoprocta ferox
Fossa are classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Hawkins
& Dollar 2008). A single photograph of a C. ferox was recorded south of Mariarano village
at 05h30 on 11 July 2014 on a portion of ox cart track that intersected the sampling route
within an area of secondary forest (see Figure 2). This is the first confirmed record of C.
Mann et al.
49 Small Carnivore Conservation 52 & 53: 4555
ferox in the Mariarano forest, although previous studies have suggested that they are likely
to be present in the area (Long et al. 2012, Evans et al. 2013). This record does not
constitute a range extension for C. ferox, which are thought to be widely distributed
throughout low-altitude areas of Madagascar (Hawkins & Dollar 2008). Nevertheless, the
nearest published record of C. ferox is 80 km away at Ankarafantsika National Park (Dollar
et al. 2007, Garbutt 2007).
Table 1. Summary of carnivore camera trap data from the Mariarano forest, Madagascar, collected
during the dry season in 2014.
C. familiaris (5)
Camera stolen
F. catus (1)
E. major (2), C. familiaris (5), F. catus (2)
E. major (2), V. indica (2), C. familiaris (1)
C. ferox (1), V. indica (3), F. catus (1), C. familiaris (5)
Camera stolen
Camera stolen
Camera stolen
F. catus (2), C. familiaris (1)
E. g. major (2), V. indica (1), F. catus (4)
F. catus (3), C. familiaris (1)
F. catus (3)
F. catus (3)
V. indica (1), F. catus (4)
V. indica (2), F. catus (1), C. familiaris (1)
V. indica (2)
1Effort refers to the number of trap nights for which the camera was active. The number of independent captures
recorded for each species per camera station is shown in brackets after the species name.
2The numbers in parentheses correspond to the number of records.
Western Falanouc Eupleres major
Eupleres major is classified as Endangered in the current IUCN Red List (Dollar 2000).
Individuals of this species were recorded six times at three sites. Two records, four days
apart, were obtained from a site near Antafiemeva village, at 01h44 and 19h10,
respectively. The remaining four records were obtained from two sites located south of
Mariarano village, both in secondary forest along a track that ran parallel to the main road
running south-east from Mariarano. Despite the relatively close proximity of these two
sites, records were obtained on four different days, suggesting that these were independent
capture events. Aside from one record at 19h10 (Figure 3), all E. major pictures were
recorded within a period of less than one hour, from 01h44 to 02h39, suggesting a possible
peak of activity during this time. Other studies have shown E. goudotii to be predominantly
nocturnal (Gerber et al. 2012a), and our results suggest that this trend holds true for the E.
Cryptoprocta ferox in Mariarano forest, Madagascar
Small Carnivore Conservation 52 & 53: 4555 50
major population of Mariarano forest. Published records of E. major are scarce, but the
species range is thought to extend from Antsiranana at the northern tip of Madagascar to
close to Soalala on the west coast, at elevations ranging from 10 to 1,500 m (Goodman &
Helgen 2010). Eupleres major has previously been recorded in the Mariarano Forest area
(Evans et al. 2013), as well as approximately 70 km south-east of Mariarano at Marovoay
and near Port Bergé, approximately 100 km to the east (Goodman & Helgen 2010).
Figure 2. Camera trap image of a Fossa Cryotoprocta ferox (left) recorded in the Mariarano forest,
Madagascar, in July 2014. Although only the rear half of the animal was captured, the long tail is
sufficient to identify the subject as C. ferox.
Small Indian Civet Viverricula indica
Viverricula indica is classified as Least Concern in the latest IUCN Red List (Choudhury et
al. 2015), but it is not native to Madagascar (Garbutt 2007). This species was the most
frequently photographed and widely distributed wild carnivore within the Mariarano Forest
complex; it was recorded on 12 occasions at six sites spread across the study area. One
individual was recorded by a camera set on a track in recovered secondary forest near
Antafiemeva village at the easternmost extent of the study area. Six captures were recorded
at two sites in secondary forest south of Mariarano village near the centre of the study area.
One of these sites was on a major road frequently used by local people, both on foot and by
ox cart, while the other was in a more isolated location near the forest edge to the south.
Small Indian Civets were also recorded on the western side of the study are at three sites
near Matsedroy research station. All the cameras that recorded V. indica in this area were
situated in open areas or severely degraded secondary forest.
Mann et al.
51 Small Carnivore Conservation 52 & 53: 4555
Figure 3. Camera trap image of a Western Falanouc Eupleres major recorded in the Mariarano
forest, Madagascar, in July 2014
This study provides further detail following the initial assessment of the wild carnivores of
the Mahamavo forest (Evans et al. 2013), recording C. ferox in the area for the first time, as
well as the Western Falanouc at a further three locations. The discovery of C. ferox in the
area is interesting, given the isolation of the remnant forest at Mariarano from other patches
of western dry deciduous forest (Moat & Smith 2007, Long et al. 2012). Fossa population
density estimates range between 0.18 and 0.26 individuals per 100 km2 in Kirindy Forest,
another patch of Western dry deciduous forest (Hawkins & Racey 2005). Extrapolation of
these estimates to the Mariarano forest would suggest a population of between 12 and 17 C.
ferox individuals. However, these figures are likely to be overestimates, in that the
Mariarano forest area also contains sizeable tracts of agricultural land, as well as a number
of villages and smaller settlements, all of which are likely to adversely influence C. ferox
abundance (Gerber et al. 2012b). Regardless, it can be safely assumed that the Mariarano
forest C. ferox population falls well below the often-accepted threshold of 500 individuals
required for a population to be viable in the long term (Thomas 1990). This suggests that
the Mariarano forest C. ferox population is either a remnant population on the verge of
extirpation, or that it forms part of a larger metapopulation that may include the nearest
known population at Ankarafantsika National Park. However, Fossas̕ are thought to be
relatively intolerant of disturbed habitats, preferring to remain close to forests (Gerber et al.
2012b, Kotschwar Logan et al. 2014). C. ferox presence has been suspected in Matsedroy
forest since 2010, when local guides from Mariarano village claimed to have detected one
Cryptoprocta ferox in Mariarano forest, Madagascar
Small Carnivore Conservation 52 & 53: 4555 52
while leading a research group, and guides have consistently claimed that C. ferox is
present in the Mariarano area. However, when findings of the 2014 survey were presented
to the GIZ Boeny and Tanteraka (i.e., local council), members stated that they were
unaware of C. ferox presence in the area. This lends further credence to the notion that C.
ferox densities are low in the area.
There was frequent overlap between carnivores at camera sites. The camera site
where we recorded C. ferox also obtained records of V. indica, C. familiaris and F. catus.
Similarly, introduced carnivores were also present at all three sites at which E. major were
recorded. It is possible that both dogs and cats have a strong negative influence on non-
domestic carnivores, through direct mortality, competition for food and space, and the
spread of disease and parasites (Hawkins & Racey 2008, Barcala 2009, Gerber et al.
2012a). An apparent decline in C. ferox abundance at Ankarafantsika National Park was
attributed to the growing population of stray dogs within the park (Barcala 2009). Although
C. ferox are known to predate lemurs, ground-dwelling species are an important part of
their diet, and all three introduced carnivore species are thus likely to compete with C. ferox
for food (Hawkins & Racey 2008, Barcala 2009). Future monitoring of the local
distribution of endemic and introduced carnivores is thus essential for conservation
planning and management.
Evans et al. (2013) recorded six captures of E. major in 227 trap nights at a mean
capture rate of 0.02 captures per night. Our study also recorded six captures, but with a far
greater sampling effort of 517 trap nights (mean capture rate 0.01 records per night). This
may indicate a decline in the abundance of E. major, especially as all the records obtained
by Evans et al. (2013) were obtained in Matsedroy forest. We did not record any E. major
in Matsedroy forest, despite our species accumulation curves suggesting that all species
present in the area had been recorded. No records of E. major were obtained in 2013 either,
albeit with a much lower sampling effort (i.e., 80 trap nights). Eupleres goudotii is thought
to be sensitive to habitat fragmentation (Gerber et al. 2012b), and it is possible that the
continued degradation of Matsedroy forest has reached a threshold at which they are no
longer able to persist in that forest patch. However, the low capture rate of E. major (six
captures in 517 trap nights) suggests that this result be treated with caution. Future
monitoring in Matsedroy forest, together with analytical tools such as occupancy
modelling, will be used to develop more robust measures of the local distribution of this
While forest fragmentation has been identified as a major driver of extirpations of
Madagascar's endemic carnivores, there is evidence to suggest that intact carnivore
communities can persist in anthropogenically-modified forest areas (Gerber et al. 2012b).
We did not encounter any evidence of hunting of endemic carnivores, and it is likely that
these are protected by faddy (i.e., local taboo) as has been recorded elsewhere in
Madagascar (Jones et al. 2008). However, faddy does not confer universal protection; both
Mann et al.
53 Small Carnivore Conservation 52 & 53: 4555
the perceived threat to humans and livestock and bushmeat hunting have led to the killing
of endemic carnivores elsewhere in Madagascar (Jones et al. 2008, Barcala 2009, Golden
2009). Consequently, the ongoing involvement of local communities in biodiversity
monitoring and conservation efforts in the Mariarano forest is thus key to preserving and
maintaining the forest’s carnivore biodiversity.
The authors would like to thank the Ministry of Forests and Environment for providing permits to
work in the Mariarano forest and DREF Boeny. The surveys were implemented and funded by
Operation Wallacea, Development and Biodiversity Conservation Action for Madagascar and the
Département de Biologie Animale (DBA), University of Antananarivo. We are grateful to GIZ
Boeny and VOI Tanteraka, and VOI Tanandava for accommodating our field camp at Mariarano
village and for providing field guides and easy access to the forest at Mariarano and Matsedroy
respectively. We would also like to thank the field guides at Mariarano, Matsedroy and
Antafiemeva, who assisted our field work, as well as the Operation Wallacea students, volunteers,
and support staff for their assistance. The authors would like to thank Dr. Frank Hawkins and one
anonymous reviewer for comments that led to the improvement of this manuscript.
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... To date, this poorly known felid has been studied only tangentially as part of larger studies of endemic carnivores such as the fosa, Cryptoprocta ferox (Dollar et al. 2007;Farris et al. 2015;Mann et al. 2015) or in understanding the impact of sympatric exotic carnivores on existing endemic species (Farris et al. 2017;Gerber et al. 2012;Merson et al. 2019). "Forest cats" are often trapped, killed and eaten by local people (Kotschwar et al. 2015; Sauther pers. ...
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Madagascar does not have native wild felid species; however, distinct populations of free-ranging “forest cats” of unknown species are known throughout the island, including at Ankarafantsika National Park, Bezà Mahafaly Special Reserve, Makira Natural Park and the Masoala peninsula. Malagasy “forest cats” are commonly considered invasive lemur predators and competitors with endemic carnivores as well as a nuisance exotic species that kill poultry. These cats may be descendants of African wildcats, European wildcats and/or domestic cats; however, no research on their genetic origin has been published. To determine their taxonomic status, genetic data from short tandem repeat markers was assessed for three wild-caught “forest cats” from the Bezà Mahafaly Special Reserve (BMSR) and 27 “forest cats” from Ankarafantsika National Park. Bayesian analyses comparing the Malagasy “forest cats” to approximately 1900 domestic and wildcat sub-species suggest the Malagasy cats are descendents of domestic cats from the Arabian Sea region, including the islands of Lamu and Pate, Dubai, Kuwait and Oman. Additional genetic influences may descend from India and Pakistan. Combined with cultural and historical information, these data suggest that these felid populations are likely descendents from cats that immigrated to the island on trade ships, particularly along early Arab trade routes.
... In summary, while further work in the area is desirable, our results highlight Mariarano Forest as an area of high conservation importance, which supports at least 57% of the 168 non-vagrant species known to occur in western Madagascar (Safford & Hawkins 2013), including numerous threatened and endemic species. Other recent survey work demonstrates that this high conservation value is also reflected in other taxa, especially mammals and herpetofauna (Evans et al. 2013;Long et al. 2012;Mann et al. 2015). The consistency of richness in forest bird communities over time indicated by our point count surveys also suggests that population of most species probably remains stable at present, and still represents a relatively intact ecosystem. ...
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Background: The West Malagasy dry forests support numerous endemic species and experience heavy anthropogenic pressures, yet remain very poorly studied. Further research is required to understand species distributions and overall diversity in these threatened forest ecosystems. Objectives: We aimed to provide a description of the avifaunal community of a particular dry forest, Mariarano forest, north-western Madagascar, as well as other habitats that are heavily integrated with these Forests. The study site possesses a highly endemic bird community and is under severe environmental pressure, but remains poorly explored. Method: We compiled all records from a 9-year (2010–2018) bird survey data set (the most extensive compiled from a Madagascan dry forest to date), which yielded data from a combination of point count and mist-netting protocols. This was further supplemented by approximately 4384 h of opportunistic observation effort. Results: In total, 95 species were detected, including 63 regional endemics (66.3% of all species), 2 local endemics and 7 Threatened or Near-Threatened species. Conclusion: We highlight the forest mosaic habitats of Mariarano as a potential new Important Bird Area, given the regional importance of its endemic avifauna. Keywords: birds; endemic; Madagascar; inventory; dry forest.
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The Vulnerable fosa Cryptoprocta ferox is the largest native carnivore in Madagascar, fulfilling a unique ecological niche in the island's remaining forests. Negative interactions with humans threaten the long-term viability of most remaining fosa populations across Madagascar. Threats to the fosa include habitat loss and persecution by humans resulting from perceived predation on domestic animals. We used GPS collars to record space use and activity patterns of five fosas in Ankarafantsika National Park, Madagascar, during the dry seasons of 2016 and 2017. The results, with up to 2,110 recorded locations per individual, indicated fosas’ home ranges and movements were not limited to the forest, and all collared individuals used networks of habitat patches and corridors to navigate deforested areas. The fosas studied in Ankarafantsika National Park had significantly larger home ranges than those reported in previous studies in other protected areas. They were rarely found within village boundaries and appeared to avoid areas of human habitation, suggesting that during the study period livestock was not a significant component of the fosas’ diet in this Park. Our results suggest that fosas have some flexibility that enables them to adapt to living near deforested and human-dominated areas by altering their space-use patterns, but they are compensating by increasing their home range size.
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Madagascar is home to more than 10 000 plant species, 80% of which occur nowhere else in the world. With natural vegetation ranging from rainforest to unique spiny forest, Madagascar’s range of plant diversity makes it one of the world's most important biodiversity hotspots. In common with many other tropical countries, the flora of Madagascar is extremely threatened not only by habitat destruction for agriculture, fuelwood, building materials and so on, but also, in the case of certain species, by over-collection for the horticultural trade. The CEPF Madagascar Vegetation Mapping Project is a three-year project (2003–2006), funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and managed jointly by The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Missouri Botanical Garden, and Conservation International’s Center for Applied Biodiversity Science. The project is innovative in a number of ways. It employs state-of-the art remote sensing technology and methodologies to delimit Madagascar’s vegetation. It represents an all-inclusive collaboration between specialists from a wide range of botanical and conservation institutions, which has ensured the most thoroughly ground-truthed vegetation map ever compiled for Madagascar. Finally, through a series of workshops, it incorporates detailed consultations with the conservation community to ensure that the final products are of maximum relevance and utility to conservation planners and managers. An accurate and updated vegetation map is imperative for conservation planning and natural resource management in Madagascar. It is also essential that the data on which such a map is based be made freely available, so that conservation organisations, government departments, academic institutions and other stakeholders can use them as an up-to-date standard dataset on which to base their activities. The electronic version of this atlas is available on Kew’s website (, and local experts were invited to continually improve and update the map. In order for a vegetation map to fulfil its intended role it must accurately delimit areas with various vegetation types as they currently exist, and assign those areas to objective categories that can be easily recognised in the field and that reliably reflect fundamental biological differences (primarily structural features, for example, physiognomy). Madagascar is becoming increasingly aware of the need to protect its biodiversity. The most immediate use of this vegetation map in conservation is likely to be by protected area managers who wish to understand the flora of their designated areas. It will also provide a valuable baseline for monitoring longer-term changes in vegetation inside and outside protected areas. However, Madagascar also provides an exceptionally high rate of species discovery and description, and this atlas will be used by field biologists attempting to identify potential sampling sites for biodiversity surveys, which will in turn yield data that is critical for biogeographic research and conservation planning. At the 2003 World Parks Congress, Madagascar’s President Marc Ravalomanana emphasised his country’s commitment to conservation by announcing its intent to triple the size of its existing protected area network. This admirable effort to prevent the extinction of many of Madagascar’s endemic species has become known as the ‘Durban Vision’. In order to ensure effective preservation of Madagascar’s biodiversity, the identification of sites for these new protected areas should follow a systematic process. A recent workshop on systematic conservation planning (November 2005, Antananarivo) highlighted the importance of using habitat types and indicators of habitat quality in addition to species distribution data when conducting conservation prioritisation analyses, concluding that this is the best way to produce robust conservation solutions. Because only a small proportion of Madagascar’s species have had their distributions documented, the vegetation types identified by this mapping project are good surrogates for habitat diversity and for the majority of the biota, which is so little known. In addition, conservation practitioners, including NGOs and donors, need information on trends in natural vegetation cover and quality in order to assess the outcomes of their conservation work. The Convention on Biological Diversity includes trends in the extent of habitats among its headline indicators for tracking progress towards the 2010 target (SBSTTA, 2004). The immediate focus of the Durban Vision group will be on establishing new protected areas (map 1) in remaining native vegetation, although subsequent attention could productively turn to managing that vegetation, and the habitat quality categories in the atlas provide valuable information. The atlas also provides important up-to-date information on native vegetation cover and quality, which maximises its potential to aid planning for future habitat restoration activities.
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Abstract A study on the distribution and abundance of Avahi occidentalis and Lepilemur edwardsi, two endemic and nocturnal species from the northwestern region of Madagascar, was undertaken in the Mariarano Forest in November 2012. The objectives were to evaluate population size and determine the impact of forest fragmentation on population abundance. Our study represents the first results of density and population size for both species. We used three methods of distance sampling on a line-transect (Buckland, Müller and Kelker), which differ in the way the effective strip width (ESW) is estimated. The results show optimistic estimates for both populations. The three distance sampling methods provided similar estimates indicating a small difference between the two sympatric lemurs. This difference may be caused by natural effects between species and their habitats (type of habitat, abundance of food, etc.) or by anthropogenic causes such as fragmentation of their habitat and poaching. Forest fragmentation constitutes the heaviest threat to these populations and could lead to their total disappearance if measures of protection are not taken.
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Mariarano forest. Mariarano forest comprises 65 km² of west-ern dry deciduous forest, wooded grass and bush land, a wetland complex and agricultural land (Moat & Smith 2007, Washington et al. 2009) and has been noted for its rich lemur populations (Andriantompohavana et al. 2006, Olivieri et al. 2006). Mariar-ano forest is one of the few remaining patches of unprotected western deciduous forest larger than 800 ha (Smith 1997) and is under intense anthropogenic pressure—Ackermann (2003) quantified annual deforestation rates of 3% in the forest. Since 2009, a collaborative project has been assessing the forest's biodiversity. The partnership comprises Operation
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We describe the diet of fossas (Cryptoprocta ferox) in a dry deciduous forest of western Madagascar from 376 scats collected between June 1994 and September 1996, from which 554 prey items were identified. More than 90% of these were vertebrates, and more than 50% were lemurs. No other nonprimate mammal includes such a high proportion of primate items in its diet. The principal prey comprised approximately 6 lemur species and 2 or 3 spiny tenrec species, along with snakes and small mammals. Significant differences were apparent in the composition of the scats in wet and dry seasons, with a higher proportion of Tenrec in the former, and fewer lemurs. Within the confines of a diet of vertebrates, fossas appeared to be opportunistic predators. For those prey types for which data were available, a significant relationship was found between the estimated relative number of individuals taken of any one type of prey and its abundance. Fossas were estimated to remove up to 19% of their prey populations per year. This high impact suggests that they were living close to the maximum population density possible on the available prey. Species of a wide range of body masses were included in the diet. Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), weighing more than one-half of the body mass of the fossa, constituted approximately 11% of the prey biomass.
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A review was conducted of members of the endemic Malagasy carnivoran genus Eupleres (family Eupleridae) based on published and unpublished records and museum specimens. Classically, one species has been recognized in this poorly known genus - E. goudotii, divided into two geographical forms with non-overlapping distributions: E. g. goudotii distributed in the mesic forests of the east and E. g. major found in the dry areas of the northwest. Drawing on external and craniodental comparisons, we demonstrate that these two forms are highly distinctive morphologically and can be readily distinguished from each another. Furthermore, there is some evidence that they both can occur on the slopes of Montagne d'Ambre in the far north of the island. On this basis, we recognize these taxa as distinct species, E. goudotii and E. major.
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Forest carnivores are threatened globally by logging and forest fragmentation yet we know relatively little about how such change affects predator populations. This is especially true in Madagascar, where carnivores have not been extensively studied. To understand better the effectsofloggingandfragmentationonMalagasycarnivores we evaluated species composition, density of fossa Cryptoprocta ferox and Malagasy civet Fossa fossana, and carnivore occupancy in central-eastern Madagascar. We photographically-sampled carnivores in two contiguous (primary and selectively-logged) and two fragmented rain- forests (fragments ,2.5 and .15 km from intact forest). Species composition varied, with more native carnivores in the contiguous than fragmented rainforests. F. fossana was absent from fragmented rainforests and at a lower density in selectively-logged than in primary rainforest (mean 1.38 ±SE 0.22 and 3.19 ±SE 0.55 individuals km−2, respect- ively). C. ferox was detected in fragments ,2.5 km from forest and had similar densities in primary and selectively- logged forests(0.12± SE adults km−2, respectively) but was absent in fragments >15 km from forest. We identified only two protected areas in Madagascar that may maintain >300 adult C. ferox. Occupancy of broad-striped mongoose Galidictis fasciata waspositively related to fragment size where as occupancyof ring-tailed mongoose Galidia elegans elegans was negatively associated with increasing exotic wildcat (Felis spp.)activity at a camera site. Degraded rainforest fragments are difficult environments for Malagasy carnivores to occupy; there is a need to prioritize the reconnection and maintenance of contiguous forest tracts
Carnivores are often sensitive to habitat loss and fragmentation, both of which are widespread in Madagascar. Clearing of forests has led to a dramatic increase in highly disturbed, open vegetation communities dominated by humans. In Madagascar's increasingly disturbed landscape, long-term persistence of native carnivores may be tied to their ability to occupy or traverse these disturbed areas. However, how Malagasy carnivores are distributed in this landscape and how they interact with humans are unknown, as past research has concentrated on populations within continuous and fragmented forests. We investigated local ecological knowledge of carnivores using semi-structured interviews in communities 0 to 20 km from the western edge of continuous rainforest in central-southeastern Madagascar. Responses from 182 interviews in 17 different communities indicated distinct distribution patterns for two native and two exotic carnivore species, suggesting a range of tolerances to the human-dominated landscape. The largest extant native carnivore, the fossa Cryptoprocta ferox, does not persist in much of this landscape; they were only observed in communities < 5 km from the continuous forest within the last five years. In contrast, the ring-tailed mongoose Galidia elegans was observed by most communities (82%), but was observed by a higher proportion of interviewees from communities in close proximity to continuous forest. The exotic small Indian civet Viverricula indica was ubiquitous, while the exotic/feral cat (Felis sp.) was observed by a higher proportion of interviewees in communities farther from continuous forest. Over 20% of interviewees had experienced loss of poultry to wild carnivores in the last year and negative perceptions of carnivores were common. We found the human-dominated landscape to provide little conservation value to native carnivores, emphasizing the need for adequate protected areas and increased engagement of local communities to sustain Madagascar's carnivore species. This information is critical to multitaxon conservation planning in Madagascar.