Madagascar is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. The main island, which is also called Madagascar, is the fourth-largest island in the world.
Because Madagascar is isolated in the middle of the ocean, plants and creatures evolved there separately from the rest of the world. As a result, Madagascar is home to many species not seen anywhere else. For example, 75 percent of the animals there live nowhere else in the world. (See some of them here.)
Now, scientists have found and identified another animal on Madagascar.
An mongoose-like creature has been discovered living in the in the country’s wetlands. It is a cat-sized carnivore with wicked-looking teeth.
Because it was discovered by researchers from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, founded by naturalist and author Gerald Durrell, the new animal has been named Salanoia durrelli, or the Durrell’s vontsira.
That the vontsira would be found on Madagascar is unsurprising. While most new land-dwelling species are small and easily overlooked, tropical jungles, like those on Madagascar, contain Earth’s last few unexplored areas.
Unfortunately, the wetland home of the Durrell’s vontsira is threatened by agricultural expansion. Conservationists say that protection is urgently needed for the vontsira to survive.