Rare Footage Of Fossa
When most people think of Madagascar the first thing that usually comes to mind is the island’s famous lemurs which are not found anywhere else and are the world’s most endangered mammals. However, few people will be aware that the fate of this iconic species is directly tied to the fate of Madagascar’s largest predator, the fossa which is facing many of the same pressures. Fossa’s are about the same size as terriers and are closely related to the mongoose with tails the same length as their bodies.
Like all other apex predators such as lions and wolves, fossa’s play a vital role in maintaining equilibrium populations of their prey species. Like many of the species of Madagascar, fossa are unique to the island and found in no other place on the planet. Scientists have very little knowledge of the species including the size of the population. They are incredibly rare, difficult to spot in the wild and do not have unique coat patterns making them hard to distinguish as individuals.
Fossa’s can prey on most of the other species living on the island and are capable hunters both on land and up in the trees. Like all other apex predators, they help regulate prey populations at levels that are sustainable for the ecosystem and eliminate the populations of the sickest and weakest individuals. Until 2010 it was thought that fossa were solitary creatures. In that year researchers observed three male fossae cooperating to hunt, and protect in a territory much larger than was necessary for solitary males.
Using camera traps researchers were able to collect information on the species and were able to estimate how many were present in the reserve and how they co-exist with other carnivores such as dogs. They were also able to isolate variations between
different animals and use that to identify specific individuals and track them from one camera to another. It was estimated that the fossa population in Masoala-Makira is 1,061 plus or minus 500.
Show fossa some love
If that number is correct that would see a density of 20 fossa per 100 square kilometres. Another study put the entire global population of Madagascar at 8,626. Rare and charismatic species tend to receive the most attention from conservationists. However the reality is that there are quadruple the number of lions globally than there are fossa in the world. Perhaps it is time to show the fossa some love and check out the short video.