Unusual animals... in Madagascar

| July 12, 2018

Owing to its isolation in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar has an impressive variety of wildlife, birdlife and reptiles, 90% of which is endemic. Off the eastern coast of Africa, it is the fourth largest island ­in the world – 2.4 times larger than the UK – and 20% of the island is forest. Here are an array of magical creatures captured on camera by Cox & Kings staff.

Bamboo Lemur

There are many wildlife reserves and sanctuaries on Madagascar that offer visitors the chance to see a plethora of unusual species up close. Combined with the national parks and nocturnal walks, guests can have a well-rounded wildlife experience.

Chameleon by night

A Parson’s chameleon by night, in Analamazaotra Special Reserve

This photo of a multi-coloured chameleon was taken on a nocturnal walk, which is one of the most exciting and rewarding ways to discover many species of chameleons, geckos, frogs and spiders. As most of these animals are nocturnal and active at night, it is the best time to see them.


Another colourful chameleon

Madagascar is home to more than half the world’s chameleons. There are thought to be around 80 different species – all of which are endemic to the island – and new ones are still being discovered. It’s remarkable how each chameleon has such a varied camouflage.

A Boophis tree frog by night, in Analamazaotra Special Reserve

A Boophis tree frog by night, Analamazaotra Special Reserve

Madagascar is thought to have more than 300 species of frogs, 99% of which are endemic. As they are nocturnal, this photo was taken on a night walk. After it rains, the sound of frogs completely livens up the forest, as they chirp to each other to communicate.

Leaf-tailed gecko, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

The leaf-tailed gecko is often difficult to spot as they cleverly mimic dead and shrivelled leaves as a form of camouflage.

Comet moth

The comet moth ­can be seen across Madagascar

Native to the rainforests of Madagascar, the comet moth is a silk moth that is endangered in the wild. However, they are being bred successfully in captivity, so you can see them in a number of the sanctuaries.

The stars of the show in Madagascar are the much loved lemurs, with over 100 species and sub-species that are found in all corners of this huge island. Many of the species are well habituated and aren’t too afraid to come close to people.

Bamboo Lemur

A bamboo lemur, Palmarium Reserve

These bamboo-eating lemurs are Madagascar’s equivalent to China’s giant pandas – as their name suggests, their diet mainly consists of bamboo.

A black-and-white ruffed lemur hanging from a tree

A black-and-white ruffed lemur hanging from a tree

In the ruffed lemur family, there are both red ruffed and black-and-white ruffed. Sadly, due to their beautiful fur, they are a target for poachers and have become seriously threatened in the wild.

Diademed sifaka

A diademed sifaka 

Sifakas are known for their sideways, dance-like moves and can be found in the north-eastern rainforests. The diademed sifaka is usually quite hard to spot in the wild as they have huge territories, but they tend to be easier to see on Vakona Private Reserve – also known as Lemur Island – as they are on a small island and don’t like swimming! They are also habituated to humans, so it’s possible to see them up close.

A diademed sifaka on the move

A diademed sifaka on the move

In the larger, more remote national parks and reserves, you may have to be more patient to get a good sighting or shot, but the thrill of the chase is fun and more rewarding than the sanctuaries.


The call of the largest lemur – the famous indri – is a noise to behold and something only comparable in volume to a chimpanzee’s calls and hoots. Their call can be heard from up to 2km away and they tend to be most vocal in the morning, so you won’t need an alarm clock!

A black indri

The balance between humans and the wildlife is all too acute in Madagascar. Since humans inhabited the island 2,000 years ago, 80% of the island’s forests have been cut down, harming a lot of the wildlife and their habitats. However, Madagascar has more conservation funding than anywhere else in Africa in order to protect the country’s endangered wildlife, much of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Cox & Kings’ Madagascar Wildlife Adventure escorted group tour is the perfect way to explore the country’s wildlife, history and stunning scenery. We also offer a group tour for solo travellers, Natural Splendours of Madagascar, which is new for 2020. Alternatively, if you are interested in private travel, please complete our tailor-made request form and one of our experts will get back to you to help you plan an itinerary.

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