Status and Trends of Biodiversity
Comoros hosts several flora and fauna species among the least studied, and the most threatened, in the Indian Ocean. According to available data, more that 33% of indigenous vascular plants are endemic, including 43 species of orchid, and 25% of bird species are endemic. Examples of endemic fauna include the Livingston fruit bat (Pteropus livingstonii), and the Comoros Island fruit bat (Roussettus obliviosus). The coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) is an endangered marine species that holds ecological and scientific interest at a global level. Other species that are endangered at a global level and are found in this archipelago include: the mongoose lemur (Eulemur mongoz), the brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus), the dugong (Dugong dugon), the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the Atlantic green turtle (Chelonia mydas). In addition to high endemism, the islands abound with a multitude of marine and terrestrial habitats including: the mountainous regions, the grassy/shrubby savannahs, the large evergreen forests, mangroves and coral reefs. Although used as the principle habitat for the permanent island species, these terrestrial ecosystems are of vital importance for migratory birds.
Demographic pressure and poverty have created a vicious circle of overexploitation, environmental degradation and an increase in poverty because the rise in population needs render traditional operating methods, previously sustainable in a small demographic context, inadequate. All cultivable areas are used and the only possible extension in agriculture would be made to the detriment of the remaining forests. The actual rate of forest loss is more than 500ha per year. Several fishing techniques such as the use of poison or dynamite are extremely detrimental to the marine ecosystem, and have contributed to the overexploitation of the fish resources along the coast and to the destruction of the coral reefs.
Number and Extent of Protected Areas
Even with the richness of the varied habitats, there exists only one protected area in Comoros. Lake Boundouni on Mohéli was added to the Ramsar list in February 1995 as a humid zone of international importance.