Mangroves occur in a wide range of environmental conditions on Madagascar, fostered by a high tidal range, extensive low-lying coastal areas, and a constant supply of fresh river water, which brings a high silt load. They occupy about 600 miles (1,000 km) of the island’s coastline and are often associated with coral reefs, which protect them from ocean swell. The mangroves, in turn, capture river sediment that otherwise would threaten both reefs and seagrass beds. Up to nine different mangrove species have been recorded in Madagascar, although only six are widespread. Several of Madagascar’s endemic birds, including the Madagascar heron, Madagascar teal, and Madagascar fish-eagle, use the mangroves and associated wetland habitats. Dugongs (relatives of manatees) glide through the waters, feeding on sea grasses, while huge quantities of invertebrates and fish swim freely among the fingerlike roots of the mangroves. These provide an abundance of food for animals such as the Nile crocodile, sharks, and aquatic and wading birds, such as herons, spoonbills, and egrets. Many of the fish and bird species here are found nowhere else in the world. Unfortunately, the mangroves are threatened by urban development, overfishing, and the development of land for rice and shrimp farming.
- Indian Ocean West
- Principal Species Gray, yellow, long-fruited stilt, and large-leafed orange mangroves
- Area 1,300 square miles (3,300 square km)
- Location Scattered areas around the coast of Madagascar, off the eastern coast of Africa