Dubbed “The Lost Forest” and totaling less than 3,000 acres in size, this forest houses numerous species of plants and animals unknown to science. Among these are a new species of Mouse Lemur (Microcebus sp; Figure 1 in attached document) and a new species of Dwarf Lemur (Cheirogaleus sp; Figure 2). Initial surveys also discovered a unique population of the critically-endangered Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta; Figure 3), which prior to this was not known to inhabit montane rainforest. This tiny fragment of forest comprises the entire known range for these species and populations, and is completely isolated from the nearest large tract of forest (Pic d’Ivohibe Reserve, approximately 22.5 km to the east).
The likely reason that this forest still exists is the large quartzite massif that shelters portions of the forest from annual wildfires that scour the surrounding region. Wildfires have completely destroyed the forests that formerly covered the region, leaving The Lost Forest surrounded for kilometers in every direction by degraded grassland dominated by fire-prone invasive grasses (Figure 4). Despite its natural protection, fires continue to threaten the forest each year, and sections of the forest already have been partially degraded by fire encroachment. Every day, the threat of fire poses a real possibility of total destruction of The Lost Forest and dozens of species of plant and animal found only there, many still awaiting scientific description.