Some places must be walked to be known. Such is the case with Madagascar, a place famous for its unique endemic flora and fauna. In fact, the majority of the island's flora and fauna exist no where else on Earth, but that biodiversity is under significant threat from human development. So adventurer Ash Dykes is going to walk 1,800 miles from south to north across the island nation, including eight mountain summits, and he may very well set a record for the first ever successful trek through the middle of Madagascar.

The trek isn't all about seeing the beauty of Madagascar and the glory of setting a record. One important aspect of Dykes' trip is the opportunity to stop and talk with conservationists about the work they're doing to protect Madagascar's endangered wildlife, including the famous yet imperiled lemur species. And he will also do a little work for them, by watching carefully for any sightings of the northern sportive lemur, one of the rarest mammals on the planet with only an estimated 50 individuals left.

Lemurs are the most endangered group of mammals on the planet. They come in an astounding array of sizes, shapes and colors. Each of the more than 100 different species has its own unique traits and quirks, and each filling an ecological niche. The Lemur Conservation Network notes, "Lemurs have important ecological roles and are essential to maintaining the island’s unique forests. Their loss could trigger the extinction of other species in this fragile forest community."

By taking on an adventure of massive proportion, Dykes will help bring attention to the importance of lemurs and of the conservation efforts surrounding this and other species of Madagascar.

“Madagascar is a magical and largely unexplored island," says Dykes. "Its terrain is unforgiving and conditions unpredictable, making it a tough challenge, but I’m determined to see it through. It’s an opportunity to unlock Madagascar’s mystery and share stories of its people and wildlife that would otherwise never be known.”

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

This guy is walking 1,800 miles across Madagascar to look for an elusive lemur
Ash Dykes is lacing up his hiking boots in an effort to bring attention to the amazing and fragile biodiversity of the country.