The African country of Madagascar is, at 587,000 square kilometres, the world’s fourth-largest island. Sometimes referred to as ‘the eighth continent’ this exotic and tropical landmass has been segregated from all others by the Indian Ocean for more than 88 million years.
In all that time left alone, the animals there have evolved into unique endemic species, unlike any others found anywhere else on the planet. There are more than 100 species of lemur (a sort of proto-monkey) living in the jungles, deciduous dry forests and spikey woodlands of Madagascar, as well as more than 100 species of chameleon.
The birds here are unique, the insect species are found nowhere else, and the snakes and lizards are also all originals. In other words, there’s nowhere else on Earth quite like this magical and mystical island.
Despite this being ‘officially’ an African location, Madagascar doesn’t really feel like it’s part of the great Dark Continent. The people of the interior originally hail from somewhere in Asia (most likely Malaysia, Indonesia or Borneo) and arrived by boat as recently as 1500 years ago: a journey of more than 7000 kilometres. They must have been terribly lost when they first set foot on the tropical sandy beaches of this previously uninhabited paradise.
Unfortunately, their arrival sounded the death knell for many of Madagascar’s unique animals and plants. There have been uncountable extinctions, and today, deforestation is at an all-time high.
There are plenty of wildlife reserves and national parks where wildlife is protected and can still be encountered, but Madagascar, due to a mushrooming human population, is one of those destinations that you should travel to now rather than later. Who knows if the irreplaceable and endangered species of this beautiful island will still be there in the future? •
Dale Morris uses Nikon D810 and D5 bodies and his kit bag contains a fish-eye lens, a 400mm f2.8, a 105 macro and a wide angle (16-35mm) lens. He often uses a flash, especially when using a wide-angle lens and macro subjects.
Specialist photography tours are conducted by Oryx Photography: oryxphotography.com