Series: Studies in Afrotropical Zoology Volume: 293
456 pages, 267 colour & 2 b/w photos, 28 b/w illustrations, 14 colour maps
Language: French with 4-page English summary
Reprint of a title originally published in 2004. The present book gives an overview and where possible an inventory of the terrestrial fauna of the tropical and volcanic Comoros, western Indian Ocean. This archipelago is composed of four islands. Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Mohéli) and Ndzuani (Anjouan) are independent since 1975 and form today the "Union des Comores" republic (UDC), whereas Maore remained under french administration as Collectivité territoriale de Mayotte (now "Collectivité départementale") but is claimed by the Union.
The fauna is a mixture of species of natural occurrence with introduced elements. The Comoros hold significant populations of interesting mammals, but none of them,except for the bats, arrived here as a result of colonisation unaided by man. The avifauna includes 16 endemic species and the humid forest is the habitat for most of these endemic bird species. The forests are important for endemic bird conservation.
Reptiles are speciose and to a large extent endemic. None of the terrestrial snakes found on the Comoros is dangerous to man. Five families of lizards can be found. The shores especially of Moheli and Mayotte are important as a breeding place for two species of marine turtles. Two species of Amphibia can be found but solely on Mayotte, probably imported from Madagascar. No endemic freshwater fish are known, but some of the permanent rivers have many individuals of a few widespread species belonging to the group of "complementary freshwater species" of marine provenance and eels.
The invertebrate fauna, and more precisely its soil fauna, greatly varies in richness from one island to the other. Striking endemic insects are the representatives of the longhorn beetle Sternotomis with an endemic species on each of the islands, the butterfly genera Henotesia and Neptis which have endemic species on all islands and the grasshopper Symbellia mayotteana. Spiders are among the most striking invertebrates. Scorpions are rare: Isometrus maculatus occurs on all islands and an unidentified buthid was found on Mayotte. The centiped Scolopendra rarispina is probably one of the few dangerous animals. The giant land snail Achatina fulica is ubiquitous and considered a pesiest just as the Veronicellidae, large flat slugs which are either jet back or snow-white.
The human population is rapidly increasing and agriculture represents the main source of subsistence on these small islands and the process of forest clearance on all islands is ongoing, so most remaining primary forest could be lost soon. Water supplies have been severely affected by deforestation with the number of perennial rivers dramatically reduced over the last 20 years. Even very steep slopes are being cleared for agriculture with the inevitable problems of soil erosion. The environmental situation is therefore urgent and needs to be addressed now if significant natural habitat areas are to remain. The conservation of the interesting elements of the terrestrial fauna depends on legislation (and its enforcement) in favour of habitat and particular species protection. Another very important matter in an island environment are introductions. An excursion guide is presented here in order to help the visitor observing the remarkable faunal elements in the particular habitats: forests, particular sites at the coast, small islets and natural lakes.
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