This feisty cat-sized creature from Madagascar is the first new species of carnivorous mammal to be discovered in 24 years.
Durrell’s vontsira (Salanoia durrelli) was found in the threatened Lac Alaotra wetlands in central eastern Madagascar in 2004. Zoologists took photos of it at the time, and have now confirmed it is a new species after comparing it to specimens of the closely related brown-tailed vontsira (Salanoia concolor).
Named in honour of the late conservationist Gerald Durrell, the new vontsira weighs just over half a kilogram and belongs to a family of carnivores – Eupleridae – only known in Madagascar. It is likely to be one of the most threatened carnivores as their Lac Alaotra wetland habitat becomes threatened by agricultural expansion, burning and invasive plants and fish.