The Animals and Plants of the Zazamalala Forest in Western Madagascar




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The Animals and Plants of the Zazamalala Forest in Western Madagascar


Last Update: 9 August 2013.

Simon Rietveld

Preface


The Zazamalala private reserve is situated in western Madagascar, 35 km north-east of the town of Morondava and the beach at the Mozambique Channel. The reserve encompasses a km2 of woodland and secondary forest with several ponds on a laterite and limestone soil at about 54 m altitude. The mean annual rainfall is 900 mm. There is a dry season with relatively mild tropical temperatures between April and September, and a hot season with frequent heavy rains between January and March. The vegetation consists of shrubs,lianas, palms, trees, and pond vegetation. There are lodging facilities in the reserve and the nearest hotel accomodation is in Morondava. Zazamalala forest is reached in about one hour by public transport from Morondava and in 40 minutes from Morondava airport. The entrance is about 500 m from the national route 35, between Antsirabe and Morondava, 11 km from the village of Mahabo and 5 km from Analaiva.

Interesting things in the area:

The botanical garden; bird colonies near the ponds; the Baobab Alley at 35 km distance; the beautiful isolated Kimony beech at 40 km distance; the Kirindy forest reserve at 60 km distance; the Belo sur Mer beech resort at an hour by boat distance; the Tsingy de Bemaraha Unesco World Heritage at 235 km distance.

Fork-Crowned, Dwarf, Mouse Lemurs (Cheirogaleidae) :

Cheirogaleus médius (Lesser Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur, Western Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur / Kelivakihando, Matavirambo).

An endemic vulnerable about 19+21 cm long nocturnal lemur. A gray head with very large rounbd eyes, dark eye-rings, and a white nasal stripe. Gray to somewhat brownish-red upperparts with brown tones. Lighter underparts. Whitish hands and feet. It stores fat in the tail to survive hibernation during the dry season. From dry woodlands and forests at 0-500 m altitude in southern and western Madagascar. One of the 7 species of the endemic genus (Mittermeier et al., 2006).

Mirza coquereli (Coquerel’s Dwarf Lemur, Coquerel’s Giant Mouse Lemu, Coquerel's Mouse Lemurr / Fitily, Titilivahy, Vokombahy).

An endemic near threatened about 20-25 +33 cm long nocturnal dwarf lemur. The head with large round eyes, and small ears.  Olive-brown upperparts. Yellowish-grey underparts. It spends the day n a nest. It feeds on insects, frogs, reptiles and small birds. From dry forests and often near the coast or near ponds at 0-700 m altitude in north-western (Tsingy de Namoroka), south-western (Isalo and Zombitsyzzz), and western (Tsingy de Bemaraha) Madagascar. One of the 2 species of the endemic genus (Mittermzzz, 2008). Note that this species may be synonymous with the somewhat smaller Mirza zaza with its distribution towards the northh-west of Madagascar (Mittermeier et al., 2008)




Microcebus murinus (Gray Mouse Lemur / Hataka, Pondiky, Tsidy).


An endemic not threatened about 12.5+13.5 cm long nocturnal mouse lemur. The head with large round eyes, and a pointed snout. Gray upperparts with reddish tones. whitish underparts. From dry and very dry scrublands and woodlands at 0-500 m altitude in north-western, southern, and western Madagascar. One of the more than 20 species of the endemic genus (Garbutt, 1999, 2007; Louis et al., 2006).

Nocturnal Sportive lemurs (Lepilemuridae):


Lepilemur ruficaudatus (Sportive Lemur/ Boenga, Boengy).

An endemic and near threatened or vulnerable about 28+20 cm long lemur. A brownish (male) to brownish-blackish (female) head with red eyes. Brownish upperparts. Sn snpiy 18 cm long evenly broad tail. A grayish chest and a grayish bely. Blackish hands and feet. From dry forests at 0-500 m altitude in western Madagascar. One of the 17-25 species of the endemic genus ().


Lemurs (Indriidae) :


Propithecus coquereli; syn. Propithecus verreauxi coquereli (Coquerel’s Sifaka / Sifaka).

An endemic endangered about 42-50+50-60 cm long lemur. A bare black and white head with some chestnut-brown coloration, yellow to orange eyes, white fur on the nose, and bare black ears. White upperparts. A white tail. A white chest with some light brown to crimson-brown patches. With very long white legs with some light brown to crimson-brown patches. From somewhat humid and dry often coastal forests at 0-100 m altitude in north-western and western Madagascar. One of the 7 species of the endemic genus (Garbutt, 1999, 2007; Mittermeier et al., 2006).


Lemurs (Lemuridae) :


Hapalemur occidentalis; syn. Hapalemur griseus occidentalis (Western Bamboo lemur, Western gentle lemur, Western lesser bamboo lemur, Sambirano lesser bamboo lemur / Ankomba, Bekola, Kofi, Kidro, Valiha).

An endemic vulnerable 28-30+45-49 (male) or 27-29+44-48 (female) cm long lemur. The head with a slightly pointed snout, and ears protruding From the fur. Light gray to gray upperparts. light gray underparts. From somewhat humid and dry forests and bamboo thickets at 100-1000 m altitude in north-western and western Madagascar. One of the 6 species of the endemic genus (Mittermeier et al., 2011).

Wild Pigs (Suidae) :

Potamochoerus larvatus larvatus (Bush Pig, Western Malagasy Wild Pig / Lambo).

A naturalized or indigenous not threatened 55-80+30-43 cm high nocturnal pig. A rather pale head with light markings, and with cords hanging from the ears. The male with a bony ridge and wraths on the head, and with sharp to 7 cm long lower tusks. Shaggy-hairy upperparts with stiff hairs forming a cape on the back, and a variably light reddish-brown to grayish-brown-blackish color. A tuft of hairs on the tip of the tail. From humid to dry areas with marshes, ponds or rivers at 0-1000 m altitude in Africa and (ssp. larvatus) western Madagascar. The only Malagasy species of the genus with 2 species (Vercammen, Seydack, & Oliver, 1993).

Civet Cats and Mongooses (Eupleridae) :

Xxx weg Mungotictis decemlineata decemlineata (Narrow-striped Mongoose / Boky-boky, Teraboky).

An endemic endangered 25-35+23-27 cm long diurnal partly arboreal mongoose. The head with a pointed snout, and scent glands. Gray-beige to gray upperparts with 8-10 dark stripes on back and flanks. A bushy tail with dark rings. light beige underparts. With bare feet with webbing between the toes. It hibernates during the dry season. From dry and very dry scrublands, woodlands, and forests at 0-500 m altitude in south-western and western Madagascar. The only species of the genus (Garbutt, 1999, 2007; Goodman, 2009; Hawkings, Hawkins & Jenkins, 2000).

Civet Cats (Viverridae) :

Viverricula indica ssp. (Lesser Indian Civet, Small Indian Civet / Alazy, Jaboady, Lahaza, Telofory).

A naturalized 55-72+35-44 cm long nocturnal civet cat. The head with round ears, and a dark muzzle and ears. Beige to yellowish or gray upperparts with black spots or patches in longitudinal rows or bands along the back, and regular spots on the flanks. A beige to gray tail with 8-10 black rings. Lighter underparts. With dark brown to blackish legs. From humid to dry woodlands, forests, and degraded areas at 0-1000 m altitude in Asia, and widely distributed in Madagascar. The only Malagasy species of the genus with 35 species (Shirley & Myers, 2009).

Tenrecs (Tenrecidae) :

Echinops telfairi (Lesser hedgehog tenrec / Tambotriky, Tanibodrika).

An endemic not threatened 14-18 cm long tenrec. A pinkish-brown spine-less head with a pointed snout. Densely spiny brown to brown-gray upperparts. Pinkish-gray to cream underparts and feet. It climbs well, and hibernates during the dry season, rolled-up as a ball. From dry and very dry scrublands, woodlands, forests, and degraded areas at 0-500 m altitude in southern and south-western Madagascar. The only species of the genus (Bronner & Jenkins, 2005).

Tenrec ecaudatus (Common Tenrec, Tailless Tenrec / Tandraka).

An indigenous not threatened 26.5-39+0 cm long tenrec. A somewhat cylindrical head with a long pointed snout. A mane of long hairs. A somewhat dense dark yellowish-brown to gray-brown or red-brown coat with a mixture of soft and stiff hairs and somewhat soft spines with a blunt tip. With front-legs longer than the hind-legs. It is extensively hunted by the Malagasy people for its meat. In 1969 the author gave a female to the Wassenaar Zoo in The Netherlands that gave birth to 32 young (there were only 29 nipples), which is a world record for mammals (Carwardine, 2008). From humid to dry areas and most often near water at 0-1500 m altitude on the Comoro Islands, Maskarene Islands (introduced), and widely distributed in Madagascar. The only species of the genus (Gorog, 1999).

Roundleaf-nosed Bats (Hipposideridae) :

Hipposideros commersoni commersoni (Commerson’s roundleaf bat, Commerson’s Roundleaf-nosed Bat, Giant Roundleaf-nosed Bat / Andrehy, Dondozy, Ramanavy).

An endemic (ssp.) not threatened 11-13+2-3 (male) or 12-14+2.8-3.2 (female) cm long insectivorous bat with a 54-57 cm wingspan. The head with a prominent nose-leaf with a rounded tip covering the snout (and a large gland in the male), a bony ridge running lengthwise along the midline of the top of the head, and triangular (with a narrow base and a pointed tip) to sickle-shaped ears with a rounded tip. Pale grayish-brown to somewhat reddish-brown upperparts, and whitish flanks. Light brownish underparts. With a 8-9.7 cm long forearm. It roosts most often in caves. From humid to dry woodlands and forests at 0-1000 m altitude in Africa and adjacent islands, and (ssp. commersoni) widely distributed in Madagascar. The only Malagasy species of the genus with about 53 species (Rakotoarivelo, Ralisata, Rakotomalala, Racey & Jenkins, 2009).

Free-tailed Bats (Molossidae) :

Tadarida pumila; syn. Chaerephon pumila (Little Free-tailed Bat / Kinakina, Ramanavy).

An indigenous not threatened small insectivorous bat. The head with wrinkled lips, and round ears with straight sharp outgrows. Narrow wings with a long tip. The tail is free. With a longer than 3.8 cm upper arm. From humid to dry woodlands and degraded areas at 0-1000 m altitude in Africa, Arabia, and widely distributed in Madagascar. One of the about 5 Malagasy (about 4 endemic) species of the genus with about 8-12 species (Russ, Bennett, Ross, & Kofoky, 2001).

Rats and Mice (Nesomyidae) :

Eliurus myoxinus (Dormous Tuft-tailed Rat / Volavo).

An endemic not threatened 11.4-13.8+12.2-15.8 cm long partly arboreal rat. The head with 1.7-2.4 cm long ears. A tuft of hairs on the very long tail. With broad hind-feet with 6 large pads, and an elongated 5th digit. From somewhat humid to very dry scrublands, woodlands, forests, and degraded areas at 0-1500 m altitude and widely distributed in(particularly southern and western) Madagascar. One of the 11 species of the endemic genus (Carleton & Goodman, 1998; Carleton, Goodman & Rakotondravony, 2001).

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