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  • Where to watch BIRDS and

  • other wildlife in the world
  • Photograph of Verreaux's Sifaka

    Verreaux's Sifaka in full flow, 'hopping' sideways, across the ground, between trees, by Coke & Som Smith.

    MADAGASCAR

    Photograph of Madagascar Flufftail

    Madagascar Flufftail in Andasibe-Mantadia NP by Dubi Shapiro.

    Best Wildlife in Madagascar

    Mammals
    Over 100 lemur species (some taxonomists believe it may be around 50) including Indri, sifakas, Ring-tailed Lemur, woolly lemurs, and tiny mouse lemurs such as Madame Berthe's Mouse Lemur, the smallest lemur in the world at just 9 cm (3.6 inches) long and weighing 30g, as well as tenrecs, Humpback Whale (mostly Jul-Sep), Madagascar Flying Fox, Narrow-striped Mongoose and Giant Jumping Rat. Also a chance of Fosa and Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin, and an outside chance of Aye-aye.

    Photograph of Blue Vanga

    Blue Vanga, one of Madagascar's many fantastic birds and mammals, by Dubi Shapiro.

    Birds
    Of about 200 breeding species over 100 are endemic to the island and a further 25 or so are endemic to the Malagasy region which includes Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros and the Mascarenes. The six endemic families are mesites, ground rollers, cuckoo rollers, asities, vangas and malagasy warblers. The species include a fish eagle, a jacana, couas, five ground rollers, Cuckoo Roller, four asities, vangas such as Blue, Helmet, Nuthatch and Sickle-billed, a paradise flycatcher and three mesites, as well as a partridge, a heron, a crested ibis, a harrier, Sakalava Rail, two flufftails, a plover, a sandgrouse, a lovebird, two parrots, nine couas, four owls, a malachite and a pygmy kingfisher, three rock thrushes, two sunbirds, two fodies and two weavers, while more widespread species include Lesser and Greater Flamingos, Red-tailed Tropicbird, Black Heron, Hamerkop and Crab Plover, as well as African Pygmy Goose, African Darter, Madagascar Pond Heron, Eleonora's and Sooty Falcons (both mostly Nov-Apr), Black-winged Stilt, Madagascar Pratincole (mostly Sep-Apr), Madagascar Bee-eater and (Madagascar) Hoopoe. Also a chance of Greater Painted Snipe.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    Chameleons (over 80 species, over half of the world total, including Pygmy Stump-tailed which is just 2 cm (0.8 in) long) and leaf-tailed geckos. Also a chance of Nile Crocodile.

    Invertebrates
    Giraffe-necked Weevil. Moths include the fabulous Moon Moth, some males of which may have wingspans measuring 20 cm (8 in) and tails as long as 15 cm (6 in).

    Plants
    Six plant families are endemic.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Madagascar

    Best Times for Wildlife in Madagascar

    The best time to visit Madagascar is between September and December when most lemurs have young, and many of the endemic birds are at their most active and attractive, during their breeding seasons. October-November is the peak time for birds and October is usually the peak time to look for the rare and otherwise elusive Fosa because females in oestrous usually climb their favourite trees at this time, year after year, in order to attract mates. The weather at this time is usually dry and sunny, although there may be some rain. It is normally mild with average temperatures ranging from a cool 10°C early in the mornings to highs in the afternoon of 25-32°C in the eastern rainforests. It is drier and hotter in the west where it is best to be in the field early mornings and late afternoons.

    Recommended Books etc. for Madagascar

    Wildlife of Madagascar by K Behrens and K Barnes. PUP, 2016.

    Bradt Travel Guide: Madagascar Wildlife by N Garbutt and D Austin. Bradt, 2014 (Fourth Edition).

    Mammals of Madagascar: A Complete Guide by N Garbutt. A & C Black, 2007.

    Lemurs of Madagascar by R A Mittermeier et al. Conservation International, 2010 (Third Edition).

    Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands by F Hawkins et al. Helm, 2015.

    Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands by I Sinclair and O Langrand. Struik, 2013 (Revised Edition).

    The Birds of Africa Volume 8: The Malagasy Region by R Safford and F Hawkins. Helm, 2013.

    Birds of Madagascar: A Photographic Guide by P Morris and F Hawkins. Helm, 1998.

    A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar by F Glaw and M Vences. Frosch Verlag, 2007 (Third Edition).

    Trip Reports for Madagascar

    Many trip reports, some for Madagascar, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Madagascar. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Madagascar' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Madagascar

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Madagascar

    Some Organized Tours to Madagascar

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Madagascar include the following.