November Update: A New Species… for Now

Gabe Cavallaro

In 2004, researchers came across an unusual creature in the marshes of the Lac Alaotra wetlands while exploring central eastern Madagascar.  After 6 years in the lab, testing to determine whether or not it was a unique species, experts from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust have confirmed that the critter is in fact a previously unknown animal.  The mongoose-like mammal was given the name Durrell’s Vontsira (Salanoia durrelli) and it weighs just over one pound.  Fidimalala Bruno Ralainasolo, who originally captured the new carnivore, explains that it went previously undiscovered before because, “we’ve always assumed it was a brown-tailed vontsira that is also found in the eastern rainforests.”

Sadly, experts are saying that the new species is very threatened and could soon be extinct, due to agricultural expansion, burning, and invasive plants and fish.  Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is doing its best, working with local communities to ensure its sustainable use. The trust is hoping combat the decline of Durrell’s vontsira and other important species.