Airdate: Nov 11, 2002
Scientist: Luke Dollar
Fossa: Madagascar's Grizzly
Although it sounds like something from a Dr. Seuss nursery rhyme, the fossa is actually one of the world's most evasive and lethal animals.
ambience: Fossa Sounds
We're listening to the sounds of one of the most evasive and lethal animals in the world. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Fossa are found only on the African island of Madagascar. Telling us more is Luke Dollar, a Doctoral Fellow in ecology at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment.
"The Fossa is for Madagascar the ecological equivalent of the Grizzly Bear. The wolf, all the big predators that we have in North America aren’t found on Madagascar. The biggest and baddest thing they’ve got is a little bit heavier than a cocker spaniel, but it’s got a really bad attitude, and it’s up for the job. If you could imagine a short, stalky, mountain lion with a tail as long as its body; put it in a tree, where it’s equally comfortable running through terminal branches like a squirrel, except this thing outweighs a cocker spaniel, or on the ground. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen."
The fact is, the Fossa is rarely seen by anyone.
"People assumed that it was nocturnal because they never saw it. They were wrong. It’s just elusive. It’s active both day and night, almost equally, but it’s never seen, because it doesn’t want to be. The forest where I did my first pilot project ever, people had been working there for ten years straight and there were no confirmed sightings of the animal, so my pilot project was to confirm its presence in this forest, where it was found."
Luke Dollar's research confirmed that Fossa are deadly predators. Once its quarry is in sight, the Fossa makes short work of their prey.
"They eat the most nutrient-rich organs first, and they’ll eat those in just a frenzy, right then and there, and then they may cache the rest of the animal for two or three days and come back to it."
Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.