A new mongoose-like mammal species living in and near a lake in Madagascar has been identified as a new species. It had been observed in 2004, but was only recently confirmed by scientific analysis to be a new species. It is the first newly discovered carnivorous mammal in Madagascar in twenty-four years. Not much is known about the aquatic animal, other than it resembles a mongoose, and lives in marsh land at Lac Alaotra, which is Madagascar’s largest lake.
“We have known for some time that a carnivore lives in the Lac Alaotra marshes, but we’ve always assumed it was a brown-tailed vontsira that is also found in the eastern rainforests,” said biologist Fidimalala Bruno Ralainsasolo. Researchers from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust identified the new species. They were assisted by Conservational International, the Natural History Museum and Nature Heritage. It was named the Durrell vontsira. “We know very little about the small mongoose-like vontsiras because they are poorly known and rarely seen or studied in the field,” said zoologist Paula Jenkins. (Source: Durrell.org)
The animal lives in the Lake Alaotra marshes, and is endangered due to agricultural expansion, pollution, burning of land, and invasive species. A bird living there, the Alaotra Grebe, aka “Rusty” Grebe went extinct recently, due to some of the same negative impacts. So there is a very real precedent for an endangered species there being lost.
Fred Hawkins from Conservation International said, “The Lac Alaotra wetlands are under considerable pressure, and only urgent conservation work to make this species a flagship for conservation will prevent its extinction.” ((Source: DailyMail) A non-profit organization, the Madagascar Conservation Trust is working to reduce damage to the lake.
Image Credit: Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust