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Exploring MADAGASCAR: a wildlife travelogue

10th April 2022

The Sloth Lemur’s Song by Alison Richard, exploring MADAGASCAR: a wildlife travelogue

Exploring MADAGASCAR: a wildlife travelogue

I have occasionally come across Madagascar on the map and mentally filed it under ‘exotic’. So it has been really lovely to find out a little more about the island by reading this book, written by an author who has been travelling there over the last 50/50 years to carry out research.

It is the 4th largest island in the world (after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo) and has a land-mass the size of France, Belgium and Luxembourg put together. Is it a continent or is it an island? That is an on-going debate. Around 88 million years ago it drifted off to become an independent floating mass. There is a helpful diagram to show how the island sheered away from what is now India, all those gazillion years ago, when the world looked a very different place.

She shares her insights – much knowledge of how species have evolved is through fossils, dating from millions of years ago. Madagascar’s Elephant Birds, for example are the stuff of legend – Sinbad the Sailor encountered a roc in One Thousand and One Nights, which was modelled on them. The author explores how species have evolved and cites actual encounters and observations from the many trips she has made to the island.

“Madagascar lacks great herds of zebra and wildebeest, prowling lions and leopards, or giraffes and elephants to marvel at. Its animals come mostly in small packages…” I don’t know about you, but my sense of the flora and fauna of this clearly beautiful island is depressingly minimal and therefore it is a pleasure to find out more about Madagascar from someone who is clearly so passionate about the place.

There are many photos and in the centre of the book, there is a collection of the author’s own shots, in colour, which add a nice personal element to what is fundamentally a book for the naturalist in any of us.

There are still tracts of rainforest in the island but climate change and man’s destructive nature continue to wreak havoc and that is perhaps the most depressing aspect. There is still such a long way to go…

This is an interesting enough book, perhaps a little dry at times, which has offered some thought provoking insight into the island and its history.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

If you do fancy finding out a little more about Madagascar, there is a giveaway with the chance to win 1 of 3 copies of the book on this link (which closes 16 April)

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