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Press Relases May 25, 2006

Unique New Game Immerses Players into the Mysterious World of Madagascar’s “Xeko-System”

Trading card game employs fun and fantasy to educate kids on the environment—Proceeds benefit Conservation International

Washington, DC—The mysterious and fantastic creatures that inhabit the island nation of Madagascar can be explored as never before through Xeko Mission: Madagascar (pronounced “zee-ko”), a new trading card game that challenges players to build the strongest “Xeko-system.” Befitting the game’s eco-theme, Seattle-based Matter Group will donate a portion of all game sales to support the real world efforts of Conservation International (CI) to protect Madagascar and the Earth’s other 34-biodiversity hotspots.

The first in what will be a series of card collections focusing on the biodiversity hotspots, Mission: Madagascar transports players to this African island to explore its plant and animal species and help defend it from destruction. In this two-player game, designed for kids eight and up, players must create the strongest “Xeko-system” and win the game by collecting the most eco-points.

“By weaving an environmental storyline into this fun and engaging game, Xeko is providing a great opportunity to inspire the next generation of conservation leaders, scientists and innovators,” said Russell Mittermeier, Ph.D., CI president and Madagascar expert. “Madagascar is one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots and a top conservation priority.”

Madagascar, which is home to such unique life forms such as lemurs and miniature chameleons, is a living example of species evolution in isolation, evolving an exquisitely unique assemblage of species found nowhere else on the planet.

For each Xeko Mission: Madagascar game sold, four percent of the net sales will be donated to CI’s conservation work. In addition, as part of Matter Group’s commitment to conservation efforts, all of Xeko packaging is made from recycled stock. Xeko cards are printed on 100 percent recycled paper using soy-based inks. Players also are rewarded for recycling Xeko game packaging.

“CI’s scientific strength and its approach to conservation is the perfect fit for Xeko,” said Amy Tucker, Xeko inventor. “And through our partnership, we see this as a great opportunity to allow kids to have fun, use their imaginations, and learn about the environmental heritage of this unique region.”

Scientists from CI provided advice and background on the biodiversity hotspots to the game designers. In turn, the creative team from Matter group designed a series of illustrated trading cards that brings to life the ferocious fossas, critically endangered lemurs (some of the smallest primates on earth), tomato frogs that ooze poison and the planet’s largest silk moths, all of which inhabit Madagascar.

“Our partnership with the Matter Group once again demonstrates that private sector companies are an important partner in conservation efforts,” said Glenn Prickett, executive director of CI’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB). “Through their creative efforts, we are reminded that science is fun and exciting and, whether you are from the United States, Madagascar, China, or the Amazon, it is a topic that connects us all.”

The biodiversity hotspots are 34 regions worldwide where 75 percent of the planet’s most threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians survive within habitat covering just 2.3 percent of the Earth’s surface (roughly equivalent to the combined areas of the five largest U.S. states). This habitat originally covered 15.7 percent of the Earth’s surface, an area equivalent in size to Russia and Australia combined. New hotspot analysis shows that an estimated 50 percent of all vascular plants and 42 percent of terrestrial vertebrates exist only in these 34 hotspots.

As in real-world ecosystems, plants and animals comprise the game’s “Xeko-system,” which players create through both competition and cooperation. Another nod to nature in the first collection of 116 cards: the rarer and more endangered the actual animal, the harder that species’ trading card is to find. Finally, after contending for special powers and waging turf wars with three different kinds of cards, the player with the most “Eco-points” wins the game.

For further information on Xeko, including where to purchase the game, please Visit. CI also has set-up an interactive Web site to explore the real Madagascar, play the Lemur Match Game and download screen savers at Click Here

Julian Teixeria


Conservation International’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB) provides a new forum for collaboration between the private sector and the environmental community. Created in partnership with Conservation International (CI) and the Ford Motor Company, CELB operates as a division of CI and is governed by a distinct executive board of leaders from the business and environmental communities-engaging the private sector worldwide in creating solutions to critical global environmental problems in which industry plays a defining role. For further information about CELB, please visit


Katrin Olson
[email protected]

Madagascar Fact Sheet

• In Depth: The Madagascar Hotspot
• Play CI's Lemur Match Game
• Visit the Official Xeko Game Web Site

Matter Group

 Photo credits for banner image: (Zebras in Botswana) © CI, Chris Brooks