Photo credit: John Dransfield/RBG Kew
The Forest Coconut, Voanioala gerardii, is listed as ‘CRITICALLY ENDANGERED’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Endemic to Madagascar, this large and highly endangered relative of the coconut is restricted to just a few tiny populations in tropical rainforest in the northeast of the island.
The main threat to the Forest Coconut is exploitation for the edible palm hearts, while the seeds, which are harvested for trade, also have limited dispersal. Most populations are comprised of a few, often scattered, juvenile plants, while of only around ten mature individuals known in the wild, three were felled for palm hearts in 2003. It’s extremely small population size puts this palm at high risk of being wiped out by any chance event.
The Forest Coconut is found within an area of the Masoala Peninsula that has recently been declared a National Park. No specific conservation measures are currently in place for the species, but genetic and demographic studies have been recommended, while effective protection against exploitation will be vital if the species is to have any chance of survival.
To learn more about the Forest Coconut, click here. Or visit the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ by clicking their logo below.
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