Mikea Forest

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Mikea Forest[1]
French: Forêt des Mikea
Map showing the location of Mikea Forest[1]
Geography
Location Toliara Province, Madagascar
Area
  – maximum
3,706 km2 (1,431 sq mi)
4,252 km2 (1,642 sq mi) in 1962
Status unprotected
Visitation 5000–8000 per year 1993
Ecology
Disturbance slash and burn
charcoal production
Dominant tree species Didierea madagascariensis
Indicator plants Didiereaceae
Euphorbia
Adansonia
Commiphora

The Mikea Forest (or Forêt des Mikea) is a forested region of southwestern Madagascar, between Manombo and Morombe.[2] More specifically, it stretches from Route Nationale 9 to the west coast and from Mangoky south to the Manombo River.[3] It lies at the transition between dry deciduous forest, which is more common further north in Madagascar, and spiny forest, which is dominant in southwestern Madagascar.[2] Its underlying geology is unconsolidated sand,[4] and the region contains several freshwater lakes.[5] The Forêt des Mikea is one of the largest remaining continuous forest blocks in western and southern Madagascar, but it is not protected and it is threatened by human development.[6]

This transitional terrain is one of the least protected of Madagascar's habitats.[4] This soil composition has resulted in a collection of plant and animal species, even distinct from adjacent vegetation on limestone.[4] Small terrestrial mammals found here include the rodents Macrotarsomys bastardi, Macrotarsomys petteri, and the introduced black rat (Rattus rattus); the tenrecs Tenrec ecaudatus, Setifer setosus, Echinops telfairi, Geogale aurita, and Microgale jenkinsae; and the shrew Suncus madagascariensis.[7] Macrotarsomys petteri and Microgale jenkinsae are unique to the forest and were only discovered in the 2000s.[6] The popular ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) also occurs in Mikea Forest, though it seems to always have been present in very low densities. Since the habitat has started to disappear, the remaining populations appear to have become isolated.[8]

As of 2000, of the 27 threatened species of bird in Madagascar, only two (Monias benschi and Uratelornis chimaera) were not found in protected areas, but both were fairly common within the unprotected forests of Mikea.[9] Monias benschi had an estimated population of 115,000, while the Uratelornis chimaera population was estimated at fewer than 15,000.[10] A survey published in 2005 reported that 59 species of reptile were identified near the eastern shore of Lake Ranobe in the southern Mikea Forest, five of which were vulnerable.[11] Some of these species include Matoatoa brevipes, Oplurus fierinensis, Furcifer antimena, Furcifer belalandaensis, Phelsuma standingi, and Pyxis arachnoides. The flora includes the baobabs Adansonia za and A. rubrostipa.[5]

Between the 1960s and the 2000s, forest cover had declined by 16% and deforestation was accelerating, having doubled in the last five years of that time period. The factors behind the deforestation at that time were slash and burn agriculture for maize cultivation in the northern regions of the forest and charcoal production in the southern regions. As of 2000, recommendations had been made to establish a large protected area, to provide aid to improve agriculture, and to establish a network of community-based conservation areas.[10] In 2001, Madagascar National Parks, known then as ANGAP, was considering a new national park in the area.[12] By 2008, a national park encompassing 184,630 hectares (712.9 sq mi) in two parcels had been submitted to the Supreme Council for Nature Protection (a state entity that deals with natural resource management) and was in the process of being finalized.[13]

References[edit]

Literature cited[edit]

Journals & reports
Books
  • Goodman, S.M.; Benstead, J.P., eds. (2003). The Natural History of Madagascar. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-30306-3. 
  • Du Puy, D.J.; Moat, J. (2003). "Using Geological Substrate to Identify and Map Primary Vegetation Types in Madagascar and the Implications for Planning Biodiversity Conservation". pp. 51–74.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Hawkins, A.F.A.; Goodman, S.M. (2003). "Introduction to the Birds". pp. 1019–1044.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Hawkins, A.F.A.; Seddon, N. (2003). "Mesitornithidae, Mesites". pp. 1095–1098.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Nicoll, M.E. (2003). "Forests outside Protected Areas". pp. 1432–1437.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Fenn, M.D. (2003). "The Spiny Forest Ecoregion". pp. 1525–1530.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Gould, L. (2006). "Chapter 12: Lemur catta Ecology: What We Know and What We Need to Know". pp. 255–274.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

Coordinates: 22°36′S 43°24′E / 22.6°S 43.4°E / -22.6; 43.4