Toads Threaten Wildlife in Madagascar

Madagascar is a unique land. There are animal and plant species that exist in Madagascar that exist nowhere else on earth. Even though this nation has so many natural wonders, the country is facing environmental degradation on multiple fronts.

Much of Madagascar’s tropical forests have been cut down. Many of the nation’s iconic lemur species are threatened with extinction. The nation also faces problems with water pollution due to cobalt mining.

To add to this list of environmental concerns, an invasive species of poisonous toad is now threatening Madagascar. The Asian common toad was spotted in Madagascar in 2008. Since its arrival, the toad has multiplied rapidly. This is no surprise as one Asian common toad can lay up to 40,000 eggs per year.

No one is quite sure how this toad arrived in the country. Speculation centers on Vietnamese shipping in and out of the port of Toamasina. Scientists think a toad may have been off-loaded from a shipping container.

When the toads were first noticed, it would have been easy to eliminate them. However, the government did not have the money to spend. In Madagascar, 80 percent of the people live on less than $2 a day. It is one of the poorer countries in the world.

The toad is so dangerous to wildlife in Madagascar because it secretes a poison from its skin. The toad if consumed will kill snakes and birds. They are not a direct threat to lemurs.

Madagascar has faced a serious epidemic of bubonic plague this year. Scientists attribute this outbreak to the death of so many snakes who have been killed by the toads. The snakes kept the native rat population down. Without the snakes, rat populations increased leading to the plague.

Right now, the toads are still in the northern part of Madagascar. Wildlife groups, the local government and some corporations are working to formulate a plan to bring the toads under some type of control.

Madagascar is a fragile ecosystem. It will have difficulty surviving if it continues to face environmental threats on multiple fronts.

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