The Island of Excessiveness
« What an admirable country Madagascar is. It would deserve, not a wandering observer, but entire academies. It's in Madagascar that I have been able to announce to naturalists that this is the land of promise for them ; it's there that nature seems to have withdrawn into a sanctuary to work on other models[…]. The most unusual and marvellous forms are to be found at every step.»
Philibert Commerson, 1770
On this piece of Africa, detached from the original continent some 165 million years ago, nature evolves in a vacuum in the absence of large predators, developing an extraordinary fauna and flora. This extraordinary natural heritage, classified as one of the world's "megabiodiversity" hotspots, can be explained by the multitude of ecosystems on the world's fourth largest island.
From the great rainforests of the East, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the paradisiacal islands of Mitsio and Radamas in the North, while plunging deep into the limestone bowels of the "tsingy" and the mangroves of the West, from the cactus forests to the white sand dunes of the South, passing through the granite highlands and fertile rice fields of the centre, Madagascar will never cease to amaze you.
Lemurs, baobabs, chameleons, tortoises, pachypodium, humpback whales, etc. are all species to be discovered and for which conservation issues are extremely important.
The last great land conquered by man, Madagascar has about twenty ethnic groups of Asian, African and Arab origins.
Whether you are in "Sakalava", "Vezo", "Merina", "Zafimaniry" or "Mikea" country, this extraordinary cultural diversity is a journey in itself..
Steven M. Goodman
An American biologist and species conservationist, he is a member of the Department of Zoology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
Steven has been living in Madagascar for more than 40 years and is undoubtedly the world's best specialist on the island. The author of numerous reference works, he is the head of Vahatra, an NGO whose objective is to work on the study and conservation of Madagascar's biodiversity.