Priority Species | WWF

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Priority Species

WWF Madagascar focuses its work on a number of key species found throughout the island.

Marine turtles

Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

The green turtle is one of the largest sea turtles. It is found mainly in tropical and subtropical waters. As the only vegetarian marine turtle species, it feeds on seagrass beds, which is critical to the healthy functioning of the marine ecosystem because it maintains the health of the beds and decomposes seagrass for smaller fish to eat. Classified as endangered, the green turtle is threatened by overharvesting of its eggs, hunting of adults, by-catch and loss of nesting beach sites.

Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

The Hawksbill turtle is a critically endangered marine species which lives in tropical oceans. It is renowned for its beautiful yellow and brown marbled shell, which also makes it a target in the illegal turtle shell trade. Its activity is crucial to the health of the marine ecosystem because it provides space for corals to grow when it dislodges sponges from the surface of the reef.

Footprint Impacted species

Tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis, Thunnus albacares, Thunnus alalunga, Thunnus obesus)

The glistening fish is so ubiquitous in world cuisine that it is easy to forget that overfishing is pushing their populations to the point of collapse. The many varieties of tuna, some of which are threatened and endangered, make up a key part of the global food web. About 19% of the world tuna production is from the Indian Ocean, making this area the second largest region for tuna fishing after the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

Shrimp

Shrimp fishing generates income for thousands of fishermen in the Indian Ocean and the sector benefits from how lucrative it is to export shrimp to Europe and Japan. However, the industrial shrimp fishery in Madagascar is currently in crisis, with a major decline in catches during the last ten years due to overfishing facilitated by loose regulation.

Endemic aquatic birds in mangroves and lakes

Madagascar Plover (Charadrius thoracicus)

The Madagascar plover is small, monogamous bird which lives in the wetlands on Madagascar’s west and south coasts. It is extremely selective with which habitats it chooses for living and breeding, which means that fertility has decreased with the continuing deforestation of the mangrove, its main habitat. It also exhibits a very low survivorship rate among young individuals, exacerbating the population loss of recent years.

Madagascar Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoïdes)

The critically endangered Madagascar Fish Eagle is only found on the west coast of Madagascar. It is unique and vulnerable because of its very slow rate of population growth. There are usually only two eggs in a successful nest, and only one lives to maturity in the best case because of the prevalence of siblicide. Currently, the population is estimated at approximately 100 couples.

Endemic terrestrial tortoise of the Southwest

Radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata)

The radiated tortoise is a critically endangered species endemic to the dry forest in the south of Madagascar. It is unique because of its beautifully ornate “radiated” pattern shell. Due to the lack of economic prospects in the region, tortoise poaching for illegal international trade has become widespread.

Endemics lemurs in priority landscapes

Silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus)

The silky sifaka is a critically endangered lemur species which lives in the small pockets of the northeastern humid forest of Madagascar. It is best known for its snow white fur, which contrasts starkly with its dark face and curious yellow eyes. It is suspected that there are only around 300 to 2000 individuals left (Patel, 2014), and deforestation of their habitat, as well as hunting for their meat, plunges the species even closer to extinction.

Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta)

The iconic Ring-tailed lemur is known for its extreme adaptability. Although the species has been found in the hottest and the coldest areas of Madagascar, rampant deforestation has decimated its preferred habitat in the spiny forests of the South. It is the most common primate in captivity, but its numbers in the wild diminish daily because of hunting, domestication and habitat loss.

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