Marojejy National Park facts for kids
Marojejy National Park is noted for its rich biodiversity, which can appeal to both scientist and ecotourist. There are a wide range of habitats within the park, and many of its plants and animals are endemic to the area. Scientific expeditions regularly discover species that are either not previously documented in Marojejy, or in some cases, completely new to science. Some new species are highly endangered. In the case of many large groups, such as invertebrates, very little is known and much remains to be discovered.
The vegetation of Marojejy National Park is extremely diverse due to the various microclimates. The microclimates also affect plant growth rates, with the wet eastern slopes showing faster plant growth, the dry western slopes exhibiting slower plant growth, and the plants on the ridge tops hindered by high winds and poor soils. More than 2,000 species of flowering plants (angiosperms) have been discovered at the park so far. At least four plant families are found at all elevations: Clusiaceae and Poaceae are generally common, while Myrsinaceae and Elaeocarpaceae are rare.
There are four basic types of forest found at Marojejy:
- Lowland rainforest: Below 800 m (2,600 ft), species diversity is the highest due to abundant rainfall, consistently warm weather, and protection from strong winds. The canopy of the primary forests is dense with tall trees reaching heights of 25–35 m (82–115 ft). Many tree trunks measure over 30 cm (12 in) in diameter. A great variety of palms, epiphytes, and ferns are also present, with 130 species of fern known from this zone. Secondary growth, which primarily includes bamboo, wild ginger or longoza (genus Aframomum), and traveller's palm (Ravenala madagascariensis), is found in disturbed areas. The most common families of flowering plant are Sapotaceae, Rubiaceae, Euphorbiaceae, and Myrsinaceae. The most common families of plants in the light groundcover are Poaceae, Labiaceae, Acanthaceae, Gesneriaceae, Melastomataceae, and Balsaminaceae. The lowland rainforest region covers 38% of the surface area of the park.
- Moist montane rainforest: Between 800 and 1,400 m (2,600 and 4,600 ft) and also covering 38% of the surface area of the park, trees and shrubs become increasingly smaller due to lower temperatures and poorer soils, and tree ferns become more abundant as elevation increases. The lower temperatures cause moisture to condense onto surfaces without forming mist. The transition between the lowland rainforests and the mid-altitude rainforest is gradual. The canopy reaches heights of 18–25 m (59–82 ft), and sun-loving epiphytes, shrubs, and other forest floor species take advantage of the elevated light levels. The increased humidity also favors mosses and ferns. The families Rubiaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Myrtaceae, Arecaceae, Pandanaceae, and Burseraceae are the most common in this zone.
- Sclerophyllous montane cloudforest: At 1,400 to 1,800 m (4,600 to 5,900 ft) and covering 11.5% of the surface area of the park, the trees are significantly shorter, gnarled and stunted, with the canopy extending to a maximum height of only 10 or 15 m (33 or 49 ft). The most common plant families are Lauraceae, Rubiaceae, Clusiaceae, and Araliaceae. The ground layer in the cloud forest is rich, and moss and lichen drape the branches of the trees. At least 122 species of fern are found in this zone. Temperatures are lower, and heavy clouds brought in by eastern winds blanket the forest. Endemism is very high at this altitude, particularly between the various peaks due to long isolation. The area is also highly susceptible to fire due to its thick layer of humus.
- Montane scrub: Above 1,800 m (5,900 ft) on only 1.5% of the surface area of the park, the last remaining mountain scrub in Madagascar can be found. Unlike all other high mountain scrub on the island, it has not been altered by fire. The region has an open, tundra-like cover, over thin, rocky soils. Soil conditions, along with the cool temperatures, windy conditions, and low rainfall limits the vegetation, which reaches a maximum height of 2 m (6.6 ft). Low, dense thickets of shrubs dominate, although terrestrial orchids and miniature palms and bamboos are also present. The dominant families of plant are Poaceae, Ericaceae, Asteraceae, Balsaminaceae, Cunoniaceae, and Clusiaceae.
Of the many plant species found in Marojejy, 35 are palms, several of which are critically endangered and have extremely low populations. Only three of these palm species can be found outside of Madagascar, and seven can only be found at Marojejy. More than 275 fern species are present in the rainforests of the massif, 18 of which are tree ferns and seven are found only at Marojejy. Many of these fern species are very rare and have highly restricted distributions.
Marojejy also contains several types of rare rosewood and palisandre (genus Dalbergia), all of which are endemic to Madagascar. Rosewood, or andramena in Malagasy, is a type of hardwood with a lustrous deep red color, while palisandre, such as Dalbergia madagascariensis, lacks the red color. Of the three species of Dalbergia found in Marojejy, D. madagascariensis and D. baronii are listed as "vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List, while D. louvelii is listed as "endangered." The park has few large specimens of the former two due to overexploitation, and specimens are rarely found in the surrounding 5 km (3.1 mi) surrounding the park. The latter, D. louvelii, is not found outside of the park.
Marojejy National Park is best known for its two iconic species, the helmet vanga (Euryceros prevostii) and the critically endangered silky sifaka or simpona (Propithecus candidus). The silky sifaka has been listed as one of "The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates" since the inception of the list in 2000. According to estimates, fewer than 1,000 individuals of this species remain, and none exist in captivity.
The wealth of species of well-known groups of animals demonstrates the depth of the biodiversity found at Marojejy National Park. For example, 75 of the 118 species of birds (64%) found in or around Marojejy are forest-dwelling birds, a total that surpasses any other mountain site in Madagascar. All of these forest-dependent bird species are endemic to Madagascar and utilize the forest for some portion of their life-cycle. One of these birds is the Madagascar serpent-eagle (Eutriorchis astur), which prior to being reported in 1990, had not been seen by ornithologists since 1932.
In addition to the silky sifaka, Marojejy is home to 10 other species of lemur, several of which are also endangered due mainly to habitat loss. The nocturnal aye-aye has only been seen once at the park, although one old nest and traces of its feeding have been found at various elevations. Other mammals include at least 15 species of tenrec, seven species of native rodent, the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), and the Madagascar sucker-footed bat (Myzopoda aurita)
The reptile and amphibian diversity at Marojejy is also rich, higher than any other protected area in Madagascar. A total of 148 species have been inventoried, and 17 of these are found only in Marojejy, including Brookesia karchei and Chamaeleo peyrieresi, two species of several chameleons found there. The panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis), leaf-tailed geckos (genus Uroplatus), and many species of frogs are also reported from this locality. Invertebrates include large millipedes, spiders, and an abundance of small leeches.
Three camps located at different altitudes allow visitors to sleep in the forest. Bungalows made of wood and tarpaulin, shelter meals, a kitchenette with the availability of coal and stove and a toilet and a shower.
- Mantella camp ( 475 m ) altitude
- Marojejia camp ( 775 m ) altitude
- Simpona camp ( 1275 m ) altitude
It was estimated that between 23 325 and 46 650 trees of Rosewood were cut down illegally in national parks Marojejy and Masoala for 2009.
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Marojejy National Park Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.