Madagascar: The Spiny Forest

The Baobabs (Adansonias) have spongy interiors that store water.  The hole in the left side may be from someone tapping it for water.  Note the steps in this one.  Those are used to climb it and pick the fruits which are very nutritious.

The Baobabs (Adansonias) have spongy interiors that store water. The hole in the left side may be from someone tapping it for water. Note the steps in this one. Those are used to climb it and pick the fruits which are very nutritious.

Our visit to Madagascar, that evolutionary outpost, began in what is known as the Spiny Forest.  There is a mountain range down the center of the island dividing the western side which is very dry from the rain forested eastern side.  The vegetation of the dry southwestern ecosystem around Ifaty consists in large part of Baobab trees, cacti and giant euphorbias called Octopus Trees which reminded us of the Ocotillos we know so well from Big Bend NP in Texas. This region is home to our target birds, both vulnerable endemics; the Sub-desert Mesite and the Long-tailed Ground-roller, both of which we got to see.

For me the Baobabs were fascinating.  Madagascar is home to six of the eight species of this endangered tree.  The ones we saw in the Spiny Forest are smaller than the 4,000 year old behemoth we sheltered under in Nambia two years ago but these seemed to have personalities.

There were lovers...

There were lovers…

...and family groups...

…and family groups…

conjoined twins?

Conjoined twins?

Grumpy Grandpa?

Grumpy Grandpa?

A dispute between siblings?

A dispute between siblings?

Well, clearly I’m carrying this too far, but they are captivating trees.  Like many Malagasy species, they are threatened by loss of habitat by clearing for agriculture and charcoal production.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Peg said,

    Thanks for sharing, so interesting!

    Like


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