Madagascar has also seen a substantial increase in population throughout the last century from just 2.2 million inhabitants in 1900 to 22.92 million in 2013. Decreasing infant mortality rates and an increase in life expectancy has led to a need for more housing and more farming to feed and house these extra inhabitants which further adds to deforestation.
Erosion due to deforestation is compounded by natural weathering and soil erosion is causing the rivers to appear to be bleeding into the Indian Ocean. In some parts of the island the destruction of natural forests has led to a massive soil loss of about 112 tons per acre every year. This sediment is now starting to block estuaries including the Bay of Bombeteka which has been silted up since 1947. Tropical rainfalls that are common in the area only increase the speed of the erosion.
As well as the threat from deforestation, animal species are also often hunted by local people who kill and eat them. Despite lemurs having been protected from being killed or kept as pets since 1964 they are still often hunted in certain areas. Some creatures are sought out and collected for sale as pets on the international market. Among the most common are reptiles and amphibians including chameleons, geckos, tortoises and snakes. Over-fishing of local waters is also a problem with regulation poor. The islanders need the fish as a vital source of income however foreign fishermen often encroach on these areas badly affecting the local economy and marine life. There is currently an unsustainable rate of harvesting of sharks, sea cucumbers and lobsters from Madagascan waters. Several alien species have also been introduced to the island which have destroyed native wildlife. For example, tilapia were introduced to the island’s rivers and lakes which caused the displacement of native cichlids.