Madagascar

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The land mass comprising Madagascar-Antarctica-India split from Africa-South America about 135 mya; Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, split off from India about 88 mya, since when its flora and fauna have evolved in isolation. As a result 80% of Madagascan species can be found nowhere else. Most of the rainforest that remains can be found on the east side of the island along the steep escarpment between the Central Highlands and the Indian Ocean. After centuries of slash and burn agriculture and the steady increase of the island’s population, barely 5% of the original forest cover now remains. Old growth forest can now be seen in the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park where most visitors go to see lemurs, of which 11 species live in the 155 km2 park. The park habitat is becoming more and more isolated as neighbouring forest is logged and replaced by eucalyptus and Monterey pine plantations. Six other national parks, under the name Rainforests of the Atsinanana, were granted World Heritage Site status in 2007.
At the IUCN World Parks Congress in 2003 the then President Marc Ravalomana announced a plan to increase the protected area in Madagascar from 17,000 km2 to over 60,000 km2. In 2009, Ravalomana resigned and fled to exile in South Africa; under the present caretaker president, Andry Rajoelina, there has been a sharp increase in illegal logging of protected rainforest trees. Rainforests of the Atsinanana was officially recognised as a World Heritage Site in Danger in 2010.

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