The Fosa

The Fosa (Cryptoprocta ferox) is the largest wild carnivore living in Madagascar with a geographical range extending over the whole island.  It generally lives in small numbers in all remaining forests on the island, preferring pristine and safe forests.  With 70-80 cm of length and of 5.5-8.6 kg of weight it has a short reddish brown smooth and relatively dense fur, and a tail almost as long as its body.  Adult males are larger than females. Individuals in the North and the East of Madagascar are generally smaller than those in the South and the West.  Although the Fosa is ubiquitous within the Madagascar forest areas, it has a very low density and is very difficult to see.   The total population within the current protected areas is estimated at less than 2500 adults.  The Masoala National Park in the MaMaBay landscape is one of the two only protected areas containing more than 500 adults.  It has been reported that the population size of the Fosa has continuously declined of approximately 30% over the last 21 years.

The Fosa is active both day and night. It is terrestrial but its semi-retractile claws allow him to climb and jump from tree to tree as lemur does.  Its diet consists mainly of lemurs, tenrecs, and rodents.  Its other known preys include lizards, birds, and poultry.

As in all other localities in Madagascar, the Fosa suffers from habitat destruction and hunting in the MaMaBay Landscape.   Studies made in the villages around the Makira Natural Park since 2005 showed that 57% of the local population hunts Fosa for consumption. Preying on poultry, the Fosa is locally perceived as pest and is hunted by villagers.  Strict conservation measures are needed as its local or total extinction could greatly impact on ecosystem dynamics, possibly leading to an overpopulation of some of its preys.  Since 2008, a comprehensive research program through a camera-trapping technique has been conducted in the MaMaBay Landscape to acquire relevant eco-biological and geographical information to ensure their management and monitor their relationship with the lemur populations within this landscape. Local people are trained on the techniques of improved poultry farming to help them abandon excessive bushmeat hunting.  Information and awareness campaigns directed on the importance of Fosa are also made to involve local people in the conservation of this species.