A Look at the Animal Life of Comoros

Learning about the geography of the Comoros left me wanting to know more about its wildlife. I’m excited because this is the first time I am touching on this important aspect of a country. I will concentrate on its endemic animal life and I will only choose some… there are so many!

“The flora and fauna (of the Comoros islands) has biogeographical affinities to Madagascar and to a lesser degree to the African continent. Like many Indo-Pacific islands, the Comoros host a diverse array of endemic species, including more than 500 species of plants, 21 species of birds, 9 species of reptiles, and two species of fruit bats.” Cr. Worldwildlife.org:

Let’s go from small to big.

Insects

A stick insect Adelophasma Anjouanense:

Cr. Researchgate.net

Well maybe not the smallest! This insect, the stick or walking stick can be the largest insect in the world measuring well over 20 inches with legs outstretched. Females stick are usually larger as you can see in the photo. ^ ^ They are known for their great camouflage capacity and they live about 3 years on average.

Walking sticks are found on every continent except Antarctica. They mostly live in temperate and tropical regions. Within these areas, the stick insect usually inhabits woodlands and tropical forests, where it hides on trees in plain sight. Walking sticks are a favorite food of many animals, but perhaps their most effective predators are bats. Most bats hunt by echolocation rather than sight, so they aren’t fooled by the insect’s sticklike appearance. (The National Wildlife Reservation.)

Leaf Butterflies, Charaxes viossati and Charaxes paradoxa

These type of butterflies are also known as leaf butterflies because they camouflage with their leaf like looking underwings. They are very common all over Africa, but these are unique to the Comoros. Their name is believed to be derived from its pointed tails.

Charaxes viossati. Cr. Boldsystems
Underleaf of a Charaxe butterfly. Cr. Aniruddha dhamorikar (Wiki commons) 

Reptiles

Endemic reptiles include the Comoro day gecko Phelsuma comorens,  the Comoro Dwarf day Gecko Phelsuma v-nigra, and the Comoro ground gecko Paroedura sanctijohannis.

Phelsuma comorensis. Cr. Alchetron
Comoro Ground Gecko Paroedura Sanctijohannis by Madamagazine

Birds

“Among the avifauna, 21 species are considered strict endemics to this ecoregion. Twelve species are confined to just one island and the others occur on several of the islands (Stattersfield et al. 1998, Sinclair and Langrand 1998, Adler 1994, Thibault and Guyot 1988, Louette 1988).” Cr. Worldwildlife.org

Only found in Anjouan are the birds Anjouan sunbird Nectarinia comorensis :

and the Anjouan brush-warbler Nesillas longicaudata:

Each of the major islands of the Comoros has its own unique owl: the Anjouan Scops-owl, Otus capnodes, the Moheli Scops-owl , and the Grand Comoro Scops-owl .

Anjouan Scops Owl, otus capnodes. Cr. Alchetron

The Anjouan scops owl occurs in grey and brown owl. Body length is 15 cm (5.9 in) and the wingspan is 45 cm (18 in). The call of the Anjouan scops owl is a distinctive drawn-out whistle, which is repeated often with by short interludes,which has been likened to the “pee-oo” call of the grey plover. The local name is “badanga”. Cr. Wikipedia

This species was rediscovered in June 1992, after an absence of records dating back to 1886! It has an estimated population of less than 400.

I have been trying to find some videos, I found this one of another species of the Scops owl… its eyes are so gorgeous! Cr. Ruud Foppen

Another bird found nowhere else is the Comoro Parrot, Coracopsis sibilans.

Comoro Parrot, Coracopsis sibilans. Cr. Tweeter “Tyum”

Historically, it has been treated as a subspecies of the lesser vasa parrot, although it shows morphological, ecological and behavioral differences. It was split as a distinct species by the IOC (International Ornithologists’ Union) earlier this year!

Mammals

Of the 8 native mammals present on these islands, two species of fruit bats are endemic (Pteropus livingstonii and Rousettus obliviosus). Other native mammals include the mongoose lemur (Eulemur mongoz, VU) and a near-endemic sub-species of fruit bat (Pteropus seychellensis comorensis). Cr. Worldwildlife.org

The Livingston fruit bat (Pteropus livingstonii).

The Livingston fruit bat (Pteropus livingstonii) or the Comoro flying fox is the largest and rarest bat of all Comorian species. Its preferred habitat is montain forests and they can only be found on In the wild, on two small islands called Anjouan and Mohéli in the Comoros archipelago above 200 metres (660 ft) on Mohéli and above 500 metres (1,600 ft).

Distinguishing characteristics include their rounded ears, the colour of their fur, and their large, orange or red eyes, reflecting this bat’s well-developed vision. Livingstone’s fruit bats weigh 500 to 800 g (18 to 28 oz). They have a body length of about 30 cm (12 in) and a wingspan up to 1.4 m (4 ft 7 in). Cr. Wikipedia

As of 2003, the total population was estimated at 1,200 individuals. Other threats to the bats’ survival include storms, hunting, and their struggles to readapt to new habitats. Cr. Wikipedia.

Cr. Wikipedia

At last a more original video:

These bats are so big!!! They weigh anywhere from 500 to 800 g (18 to 28 oz). They have a body length of about 30 cm (12 in) and a wingspan up to 1.4 m (4 ft 7 in). 1.4 meters! I’d be screaming my head off if I had an encounter with one! Thank goodness for virtual traveling! ^ ^

The mongoose lemur (Eulemur mongoz, VU)

The Mongoose lemurs are usually nocturnal during the dry season, becoming diurnal and/or crepuscular with the approaching of the wet season. They are highly social animals, forming small family units of 3 – 4 lemurs, which typically consist of an adult pair and their young, occupying a small home range. Reaching maturity at 2.5 – 3.5, Mongoose lemurs disperse, leaving their family group. As territorial animals, they define their home ranges through scent and vocalizations. The Mongoose lemurs live in a female-dominated society. Females have an exclusive right to choosing food and mates. 

Female dominated society! WOW!

Duke Lemur Center
Duke Lemur Center

Well, this is the end of this post. I hope you enjoyed some of the many fascinating animals unique to these islands. I wanted to include fish too, but maybe it will be a separate post if I have enough time.

Update December 18, 2021.

I found another video made by tourists. They did a really good job capturing the wildlife. This is part of their video description:

“We show you the best places to stay in Comoros, Moheli and Moroni, where to find the best wildlife in the Comoros Islands, where you can swim with wild dolphins in Moroni, where you can swim with turtles and manta rays in Moheli and the overall best places to see nature in Comoros, Moheli and Moroni.”

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