Beach on Nosy Mangabe, a tropical island paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. Photo by Rhett Butler.
A question commonly asked of me is “What is the origin of the name mongabay?”
The short answer is it is a made up name. When I launched the site in 1999 I wanted something unique so it would be easy to track references. Back then if you typed “mongabay” into a leading search engine — Excite, Lycos or Alta Vista, if I remember correctly — it produced no results.
But there’s more to the origin of the name. “Mongabay” is an anglicized spelling and pronunciation of Nosy Mangabe, an island off Madagascar.
Nosy Mangabe is best known as a preserve for the aye-aye, a rare and unusual lemur famous for its bizarre appearance and surprising intelligence, but it is also home to a wealth of other species including black-and-white ruffed lemurs, cryptic Uroplatus or leaf-tailed geckos, brilliant green day geckos, stunning panther chameleons, jeweled Mantella frogs, turquoise boa constrictors, and diminutive Brookesia chameleons. The waters around Nosy Mongabay teem with coral reefs and are a rich breeding ground for humpback whales.
Nosy Mangabe is my version of paradise, so it is an apt name for a web site focused on highlighting the beauty and importance of the world that surrounds us.