82 percent of Madagascar’s plants and 90 percent of the island’s vertebrates aren’t found anywhere else on Earth. Of those plants, 1,916 are used by humans, and 1,596 are endemic to Madagascar.
Madagascar has safeguards in place, with 10 percent of its land designated as protected areas. Though that’s a small portion of the island overall, 79.6 percent of threatened plants and 97.7 percent of threatened vertebrates are present in these areas.
Using techniques including machine learning, the researchers predicted species’ extinction risks and their biggest threats. They found overexploitation and unsustainable farming were the biggest risks.
They also say the root causes of biodiversity loss must be addressed. Poverty and food insecurity in nearby communities are major causes of overexploitation, so any conservation strategy must take them into account.
Researchers point to recent efforts to record more of Madagascar’s animal species as a positive development. Cataloging endemic species is a necessary first step toward conservation, but the road to actually protecting them is far longer.