A fascinating, freely available new film follows a dedicated team of local and international researchers as they study dwindling rainforest fragments in remote northern Madagascar. It showcases the team’s struggles against the elements in their efforts to gather data on habitat fragmentation and its impacts on reptiles and amphibians in one of the world’s hottest biodiversity hotspots. This feature-length documentary highlights not just the beauty of the forest, but also the stark contrast between the worlds inside and outside of it, and the stories of the Malagasy researchers striving to study and protect the rainforests before it is too late.
Madagascar’s once pristine and expansive rainforests are disappearing, and the animals and plants that inhabit them face the same fate. Isolated for some 65 million years, the island of Madagascar is almost three times the size of Britain and boasts unparalleled levels of endemic biodiversity. But its forest cover has declined drastically in the last century, and 70% of the remaining forest is within 1 km of the forest edge. Expedition leader James Borrell explains, “with one of the highest deforestation rates globally, combined with nearly 95% species endemism and severe poverty – Madagascar really is the front line of conservation”.
Spurred on by the urgency of the deforestation crisis in Madagascar, a team of local and international biologists recently carried out critically important research on the increasingly frayed edges of Madagascar’s rainforests. The expedition, funded by the Zoological Society of London, Royal Geographical Society, Scientific Exploration Society, Cadogan Tate, Royal Meteorological Society, Queen Mary University of London and donations through Indiegogo, lasted five weeks.
By looking at the diversity and distribution of reptiles and amphibians relative to the forest’s edges, they worked to understand how these changing forest conditions are affecting the animals that inhabit them. “Almost all of Madagascar’s over 700 amphibian and reptile species are found nowhere else in the world. And almost all of them are threatened by habitat decline” said Mark D. Scherz, reptile and amphibian researcher on the team, “Many species that don’t even have names yet are already on the verge of extinction”.
The new documentary by Falcon Productions, “Madagascar – Life on the Edge” follows the team in their efforts to understand these effects, ultimately leading to improved conservation prospects for the forest. Jeanneney Rabearivony, a professor at the University of Antsiranana in northern Madagascar, stars in the documentary. He tells of his childhood memories of intact forests, and his life-long ambition to save the forests through research and public outreach. This thought-provoking narrative brings to the screen the stories of the people and animals affected by our impact on the planet.
The film also highlights the realities of research in remote corners of the world; the team faces dangerous storms, unforgiving terrain, and encounters illegal lemur trapping and on-going deforestation, in their efforts to study these forests. Expedition scientist Lawrence Ball admits “It was the most challenging experience of my life. For the first three weeks there were fierce storms most nights. The central mountains in monsoon season are an unforgiving environment”. But the team were well rewarded: their research will not only contribute to the conservation of these forests, but they also discovered a number of new species to science.
‘Madagascar – Life On The Edge’ will be available to stream online for free from 10:00 am on Friday 10th November 2017. It can be streamed for free in full HD on our website, on Vimeo and on YouTube.
About Falcon Productions
We are a creative culture production company with a love for stories and the outdoors. We create thought provoking content, capture unique human experience and share it with the world. Whether in the heart of a bustling city or off the beaten track, we strive to uncover untold narratives.
If you would like further information about any aspect of the expedition or filmmaking process please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we will respond as quickly as possible.
Additional contacts: Dr. James Borrell, expedition leader, firstname.lastname@example.org; Mark D. Scherz, herpetologist and taxonomist, email@example.com; Lawrence Ball, logistics, firstname.lastname@example.org; Thomas Starnes, mapping, email@example.com.