Sat, Oct 14, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Golbe trotting -- Madagascar 世界走透透:馬達加斯加

A chameleon sits in a tree in Mantadia National park.曼特迪雅國家公園內一隻變色龍坐在樹上.

PHOTO: AP

Madagascar

馬達加斯加

Sometimes described as the world’s eighth continent, Madagascar is home to an astounding array of flora and fauna unique to this island state -—plus some of the world’s best whale-watching sites. Take a closer look and discover what makes this isolated country so exciting.

馬達加斯加常被稱為世界第八大洲,島上獨有動植物種類豐富,還有舉世無雙的賞鯨地點。

深入了解探索這個與世隔絕的國家之所以引人入勝的原因。

A closer look 說古論今

Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island. The island is believed to have broken off from the main continent of Africa about 160 million years ago. Experts believe that humans arrived relatively recently, around 2000 years ago. There are several theories as to the original settlers, but broadly speaking the people, much like the landscape, are a blend of Asian and African. Malagasy, the commonly spoken language, is the only language in the African region to be a member of the Malayo-Polynesian family, and resembles Southern Borneo’s Maanyan. French is also widely spoken.

Madagascar’s unique biodiversity is a result of its isolation from the African continent. Rainforests and dry forests, plains and mountains, central high rice paddies and excellent coral reef ecosystems — this island nation has them all. Five percent of the world’s flora and fauna are unique to this island, which is around the same size as France.

However the very isolation which has allowed Madagascar’s ecosystem to flourish also brings problems. Transportation costs are high and much of the population is reliant on agriculture for their living. Recently, deforestation has become widespread. A sad side effect of this is that some of the animals and plants which are found nowhere else in the world are in danger of dying out forever. Currently there are 472 species listed as being at risk of extinction in Madagascar.

馬達加斯加是世界第四大島嶼,據說約一億六千萬年前自非洲大陸分裂而出,專家認為人類一直到約兩千年前才移居於此。關於居民的起源有幾派不同的理論,但一般廣泛認為其居民如同地形,融合了亞非兩洲的元素。居民經常使用的馬拉加西語是非洲地區唯一隸屬馬來亞玻里尼西亞語系的語言,類似婆羅洲南部的馬尼安語。法語亦普遍使用。

與非洲大陸隔海相望的獨立地形是馬達加斯加能保有多樣物種的原因,雨林、乾燥林、平原、高山、中央高地的稻田和完美的珊瑚礁生態系統,此島應有盡有。這塊約同法國大小的島嶼上棲息著全球5%的獨有物種。

然而地形孤立雖使生態系統茂盛發展,卻也帶來不少問題,如交通費用高昂,多數居民仍仰賴農業維生。近來大規模森林砍伐造成部分島上獨有的動植物瀕臨絕種,目前馬達加斯加有四百七十二種物種被列為瀕臨絕種。(翻譯:鄭湘儀)

WHO KNEW? 你知道嗎?

Madagascar is home to some pretty amazing wildlife. The Fossa (pronounced Foo-sa) looks like a mix between a snow leopard and a dog. It can grow to up to 1.5m long. It has a tail which can be up to half of the length of its body. Although it looks quite cat-like, it is actually closely related to the mongoose. It can leap between trees like a squirrel and is Madagascar’s largest remaining carnivore. One of the Fossa’s favorite meals is the giant leaping rat. This animal is about the size of a rabbit with long, pointy ears and large rear legs which it can use to jump up to one meter in air in order to get away from the Fossa. Unfortunately both species are endangered.

馬達加斯加棲息著一些十分令人驚奇的野生動物。長尾靈貓看似狗和雪豹的綜合體,身長可達一點五公尺,尾巴的長度可達身長的一半,儘管看起來像貓,實際上卻為貓鼬近親,能像松鼠一樣在樹林間跳躍,是馬達加斯加僅存的肉食動物。長尾靈貓最喜歡的食物之一就是巨大的跳鼠,其身型如兔,有長而尖的耳朵和粗壯的後腿,可上跳一公尺以躲避長尾靈貓的獵捕。不幸的是,這兩種動物均瀕臨絕種。

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