|Cover features elephant birds Aepyornis hildebrandti |
and the giant lemur Archaeoindris fontoynontii
The emphasis is on the larger species of reptiles, birds and mammals that became extinct and the authors explore possible causes ranging from climate change to hunting. This bias means that smaller mammals, such as tenrecs and endemic rodents, are scarcely mentioned except in the synoptic tables.
|Aldabra giant tortoises - relatives of the extinct Malagasy species|
Muhammad Mahdi Karim (Gnu Free Documentation Licence)
|Malagasy crowned eagle piercing the shoulder blades of a sloth lemur|
Apart from the plates, figures are in grey tone. They include historical photos such as Grandidier's 1898-99 expedition. However, even more recent photos lack sharpness and contrast, perhaps due to the quality of paper chosen.
The introductory chapters give useful information on the geology and history of the island including the origins of the Malagasy people from Austronesians and Africans. In general the impact of humans in past centuries may have been overstated. The chapter on elephant birds concludes there is no evidence they were hunted to extinction and some evidence they may have been victims of climate change. The real and frightening aspect is the enormous habitat loss that has occurred in the last 60 years and that is still ongoing.