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The real story of Madagascar; new information site explores the island
By Rhett Butler, mongabay.com
May 31, 2005



Baobab tree in Madagascar
Mongabay.com today announced the official launch of WildMadagascar.org, an information site on the island country of Madagascar. The site features more than 3000 photos from across Madagsacar in addition to information on the country's unique flora and fauna, national park profiles, and a wealth of other resources including maps, a travel forum, and news updates.

"In light of the recent release of Dreamworks' new animated film, we wanted to offer a site that provides information on the real Madagascar," says Rhett A. Butler, founder of the site. "From its incredible wildlife to its beautiful landscapes, Madagascar is a special place that has a lot to offer visitors."

Madagascar, the world's fourth largest island at a little larger than the state of California, has some of the best wildlife on the planet. Isolated in the Indian Ocean off the coast of southern Africa, about 80% of its native flora and fauna are unique to the island. The island is home to such evolutionary oddities as lemurs, a group of primates endemic to the island; brilliantly colored lizards including geckos and chameleons; tenrecs, spiny hedgehog-like creatures; and the fossa, a carnivorous animal that looks like a cross between a puma and a dog but is closely related to the mongoose. This assemblage of peculiar and unique animals made Madagascar the setting for the recently released Madagascar movie.

Sifaka lemur in Madagascar
Madagascar, the Dreamworks film, grossed about $61 million in its opening weekend. Madagascar, the country, hopes that the movie will stimulate its tourism industry in a way similar to that of Kenya after the 1985 film Out of Africa was released. Madagascar has a lot of offer visitors but due to its remoteness, lack of infrastructure, and poverty it has failed to capitalize on its natural tourist attractions. WildMadagascar.org aims to raise awareness of the country with the hope that more ecotourists and culturally sensitive travelers will be interested in visiting this unique land.

WildMadagascar.org offers free acess to educational materials on Madagascar's biodiversity (in PDF form) and a forum for travelers to discuss travel plans and share their Madagascar experiences.

"The forum will be a great place for people to share their Madagascar travel experiences," says Dylan Lossie, a moderator in the site's forum. "It will also be a great resource for people planning their first trip to this remarkble country."

WildMadagascar.org is available in English. A French version of the site is currently in Beta form and is accessible from the WildMadagascar.org homepage.

You can learn more about the site and Madagascar at http://www.wildmadagascar.org. Some other useful sections of the site are listed below:

Media contact:

Inquires can be directed to Rhett A. Butler


About WildMadagascar.org:

Founded in 2004, WildMadagascar.org aims to raise awareness on Madagascar, one of the world's most biodiverse countries. The island is best known for its lemurs -- including the indri, aye-aye, and ring-tailed lemurs -- but is also home to many other unique species from tenrecs to colorful chameleons. Proceeds from the site will go toward conservation efforts in the country, which is one of the poorest on Earth.

WildMadagascar.org features a travel discussion forum, park and wildlife profiles, commentary from leading experts on Madagascar, and a large collection of photos -- including images taken by renowned photographer Julie Larsen Maher of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).




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