Expedition Mahimborondro: A place to feel the clouds
The island of Madagascar is widely regarded as a “living laboratory” in which evolution has sculpted an extremely diverse and specialised biota over millions of years. The birds of the island are no exception to this trend, and it currently hosts 282 species, of which a staggering 115 are endemic to the island. Of these, 35 are considered globally threatened to some degree. Madagascar also hosts 84 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and seven Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs), further illustrating its importance for global bird diversity. The high levels of endemic species is a strong motivation for increased conservation efforts on the island, as species lost here, will be lost forever. Madagascar is a country of spectacular biodiversity and unrivalled endemism, yet it is now facing environmental degradation on a massive scale. Unfortunately, to date nearly 90% of Madagascar’s original habitats have been destroyed, illustrating the need for increased conservation efforts in, and support for, this region. In contrast to this sad picture facing Madagascar’s biodiversity, the story of the Madagascar Pochard (Aythya innotata) provides a refreshing positive outcome for conservation.