Tuesday, 11 December 2012

More from Madagascar...

So I'm back in the what seems to be harsh winter climate of Southern England; a world away from the humid forests of North-Western Madagascar. Reflecting on my trip there are simply too many magical things to write about on here, so I have selected a few to share all of which have a similar theme; of being small!

So the first, up until 2007 was the smallest frog in the world, until someone else discovered a smaller one in Papua New Guinea. Even so, Stumpffia pygmaea is a terrestrial frog only 11mm in length, weighing less than 0.2g and a joy to behold. Although fairly common where we were working, it is listed as vulnerable as it is only found on two islands off the coast of Madagascar; Nosy Be where we were and Nosy Komba. This tiny frog lives in the leaf-litter of secondary and primary forests and similar to other tropical frogs, it builds foam nests to protect their eggs. They are rather difficult to photograph, so I have included a picture of one in the hand to give an idea of just how small they are.

Stumpffia pygmaea

Stumpffia pygmaea

The next tiny creature on my list is Brookesia Stumpffi, or the Plated Leaf Chameleon. They can grow to up to 9cm long and live for up to 3 years. Much like the Stumpffia pygmaea, it inhabits the leaf litter of primary and secondary forest during the day, and much like other chameleons it will spend the night perched on branches away from the ground. Brookesia Stumpffi is listed of least concern by the IUCN as it has a fairly large distribution across North-Western Madagascar and has also shown fairly high adaptability to different habitats. Non-the-less, habitat destruction in Madagascar is still rampant, and its safe status may not remain that way for much longer. Unfortunately, it is also much favoured in the pet trade.

Brookesia Stumpffi

And to end what else but a bird, and one that I was most keen to see while I was in Madagascar, the Pygmy Kingfisher. This stunning little bird is slightly smaller than your average House Sparrow, around 13cm long. They are widespread across Madagascar, and inhabit what rainforest is left in Madagascar. They feed on insects, spiders, frogs and tadpoles and as such don't necessarily associate with water.Their population is believed to be declining but as yet their population has not been properly quantified. However, like all species in Madagascar, their habitat is still rapidly disappearing, so unless more is done to stop the ongoing destruction, 150,00 species endemic to this magical island could be lost.

Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher, Ceyx madagascariensis