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While one of the criteria to define an area as a hotspot is having at least 1500 endemic plant species, Madagascar alone possesses over 11000. This endemism is not limited to plants: the island is home to five families of birds, five families of primates and two families of freshwater fish found nowhere else on the planet. New species are still being discovered with 22 new mammal species and subspecies being found in the past 15 years.

Unfortunately, human arrival has deeply disturbed ecosystems and biodiversity across the Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands Hotspot for centuries. The symbol of species extinction, the dodo, lived here. The bird was eradicated only a few years after the first settlers arrived to the island.

Animals of

Hotspot Map

Deforestation and forest degradation are among the most significant threats to terrestrial ecosystems in Madagascar. The country's natural forest cover has already been reduced to about 12 percent. The high biodiversity and micro-endemism in the hotspot means that the loss of even a small forest area can lead to extinctions.

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