Mayotte: yet to be recognized exceptional biodiversity

20 June 2013 | News story

The French overseas department of Mayotte is located in the biogeographical area of the Comoros Archipelago, at the heart of the Mozambique Channel and close to Madagascar. Mayotte hosts a variety of land and marine tropical ecosystems which are of major ecological value, despite significant landscape changes due to the exploitation of first sugar cane and later rice. Read more about Mayotte in the new Country Focus.

For its limited territory, Mayotte’s natural landscape hosts a vast array of  rare biodiversity. Landscapes range from tropical forests located on summits and ridges, wetlands amid alluvial plains, bays covered in mangroves, coasts outlined by coral reefs and surrounded by marine flora. Mayotte, a volcanic island more than 8 million years old, shares its flora with Madagascar and, at a regional level, it is considered as 1 of the 34 world’s biodiversity hotspots.

Due to the subsidence of the island that gradually took place over the past 500,000 years, a large coral reef and lagoon surrounding the island emerged. These are exceptional for their size (1,000 km2) and for the rich biodiversity they host (more than 760 marine fishes of which 17 are threatened according to IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, 581 marine arthropod species, more than 450 cnidaria and 24 marine mammals).

The terrestrial and marine biodiversity of Mayotte deserves special attention not only for its uniqueness but also for the high fragmentation of its natural relict habitats. Although the importance of the island’s marine heritage has been recognized with the creation of a Nature Marine Park, there remains plenty of work to conserve and enhance the natural wealth of Mayotte.

Since June 2012, IUCN’s French National Committee has worked to help develop a Biodiversity Strategy for Mayotte. The process has involved the participation of numerous stakeholders and the organisation of several workshops to map out how the island’s rich biodiversity can be better protected.

By developing its Biodiversity Strategy, Mayotte has become a pilot for overseas departments of France both in that it has brought an example for the implementation of the national French biodiversity strategy, but also in that it has translated France’s international biodiversity commitments into practice. Mayotte is also a good example for future voluntary schemes on biodiversity for Europe’s overseas.

Read more about Mayotte in the Country Focus.


This image shows the courtship behavior of Indian Bull frogs (Holobatrachus tigerinus). During the monsoon, the breeding males become bright yellow in color, while females remain dull. The prominent blue vocal sacs of male produce strong nasal mating call.