The Annotated Ramsar List: Madagascar


The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance


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The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Madagascar on 25 January 1999. Madagascar presently has 9 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 1,175,011 hectares.

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

Complexe des lacs de Manambolomaty. 25/09/98; Province de Mahajanga; 7,491 ha; 19º01’S 044º24’E. The complex is made up on four lakes, of which three are permanent freshwater lakes and one is a brackish. All four lakes are surrounded by the Tsimembo forest. The wetland complex harbors 20 bird species and sub-species endemic to Madagascar. There are 10 breeding sites of the critically endangered endemic Madagascar fish-eagle, and the site also serves as habitat for an endangered freshwater tortoise species. This site is also the breeding place for the vulnerable Humblot’s Heron, and one of the lakes is the only known area for the endangered Bernier’s Teal and the White-backed Duck; it is also the habitat for seven different lemurs. The area is used seasonally as rice paddies and marshes and the adjacent forest is used for its natural resources, while part of the wetland complex is used for fishing and cattle grazing. Ramsar site no. 963. Most recent RIS information: 1998.

Lac Kinkony. 05/06/12; Mahajanga; 13,800 ha; 16°08'S 045°49'E. Within Protected Area, Important Bird Area. A permanent freshwater lake situated in western Madagascar in the Mahavavy basin that supports the livelihoods of several local communities that depend on fishery and rice agriculture carried out along the banks. The vegetation is dominated by Phragmites mauritianus, which acts as a nesting ground and refuge for several water fauna including 45 species of waterbirds, four of which are threatened, and the endemic and endangered Sakalava Rail (Amaurornis olivieri). The site is an important source of food and a spawning ground for 18 species of fishes, including the endangered Paretroplus dambabe and the vulnerable Paretroplus kieneri as well as freshwater tortoise. The lake is threatened by overfishing and the use of unregulated fishing techniques, the conversion of marshes into rice farms, and the destruction of the drainage basins for agriculture. The Ramsar Site is part of the Mahavavy Kinkony protected area; there is a management plan, and a community-based organization has been created to regulate fishing and agricultural activities and ensure sustainable management of the lake's resources. Ramsar Site no. 2048. Most recent RIS information 2012.

Le Lac Alaotra: les zones humides et bassins versants. 09/09/03; Ambatondrazaka; 722,500 ha; 17°28'S 048°31'E. A large lake of some 20,000 hectares, surrounded by 23,500 ha. of marsh and 117,000 ha. of rice plantations, and including over 500,000 ha. of the surrounding catchment and water courses, between 750 and 1250m altitude. The site is an excellent representative example of the natural wetlands of the eastern Madagascar biogeographical region and includes nine of twenty inland wetland types identified in the Ramsar system of classification, as well as seven of the 10 human-made wetland types. The site provides habitat for three endemic species, all of which are seriously threatened -- the grey lemur Hapalemur griseus alaotrensis, the Alaotra grebe Tachybaptus rufolavatu, and the Madagascar pochard Aythya innotata - as well as for five very rare, indigenous species of fish and some 30 species of waterbirds. The wetlands surrounding the lake have religious significance. The rice plantations, the premier rice-producing area in the country, are under a cooperative water-management association of rice-producers and other users. The introduction of alien fish species, and to some extent alien plant species as well, are seen to be a potential threat for the future. The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust has maintained since 1996 an education and public awareness programme in the villages and schools around the lake. Both Durrell Wildlife and WWF's Living Water Programme have assisted in the preparation of the designation of this site. Ramsar site no. 1312. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Lac Tsimanampetsotsa. 25/09/98; Province de Toliara; 45,604 ha; 24º07'S 043º45'E. This site is a shallow lake with open water and mudflats, while the eastern shore of the lake is bounded with calcareous cliffs and a number of caves with underground freshwater lakes and rivers. The site is habitat for a threatened endemic bird species, as well as for a threatened blind fish found in the underground rivers and caves. The forest around the site is the only known habitat for the carnivorous mongoose species, which is endangered. The area also has a population of two of Madagascar’s endemic species of vulnerable tortoise, which are protected by a local taboo that prohibits hunting them. The site area is used for its rich natural resources by the local communities roundabout and some ecotourism as well. Ramsar site no. 962.  Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Marais de Torotorofotsy avec leurs bassins versants. 02/02/05; Toamasina; 9,993 ha; 18°52'S 048°22'E. A near-natural permanent marsh and temporary marshes with their catchments of primary rainforest fragmented by agricultural zones and secondary forest. A number of gravely threatened species are present, including the Golden Frog Mantella aurantiaca and the Yellow or Eastern Mantella Mantella crocea, along with at least 40 additional endemic amphibians, and it is one of only two known sites that support the Slender-Billed Flufftail, Sarothrura watersi. The threatened Meller's Duck Anas melleri nests in the site, and both the Serpent Eagle Eutriorchis astur and the Madagascar Grass Owl Tyto soumagnei, both very rare, have been recorded; four endangered species of lemurs are also supported. The site plays an important hydrological role in flood control in the Andasibe region. Artisanal fishing employs customs that protect against overexploitation. A mining project in the vicinity and siltation of the marsh caused by deforestation in the region are seen as the chief threats to the site. Ramsar site no. 1453. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Parc de Tsarasaotra. 09/05/05; Antananarivo; 5 ha; 18°52'S 047°32'E. A small lake near the capital Antananarivo, playing an extremely important role in providing a refuge and nesting site amid the urban environment to waterbirds such as herons and ducks inhabiting the highlands located in the centre of the country. Particularly during the hunting season, the lake, surrounded by old eucalyptus and camphor trees, as well as Juncus and Cyperus reeds, is key to the survival of 14 threatened waterbird species and subspecies that are endemic to Madagascar. This is the only known site on the Malagasy highlands to host the endangered Madagascar pond heron (Ardeola idae). Meller's duck (Anas melleri) and the vulnerable Madagascar little Grebe are also present on this site. The lake is privately owned, and a management plan is proposed to address the eutrophication and erosion problems that are reducing the lake's surface area and degrading its water quality. Regular bird-counting and bird watching trips take place at the site. Ramsar site no. 1464. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Rivière Nosivolo et affluents. 17/09/10; Toamasina; 358,511 ha; 20°03’S 48°07’E. Situated in a rich wetland area in the eastern part of Madagascar, ‘Rivière Nosivolo et affluents’ (358,511 ha; 20°03’S 48°07’E) comprises 130 km of main river system along which flowing water, lakes, pools and irrigated lands spread throughout 200 km, including 62 inland islets. The Nosivolo near-natural ecosystem is recognised as having the highest concentration of endemic freshwater fish in Madagascar. Most importantly, the site is home to 19 endemic fish species including the critically endangered Oxylapia polli. The diversity of fauna entails six species of endemic birds, ten species of famous lemurs and reptiles as well as ten species of endemic plants. The wetland acts as a catchment area, floodplain and retains sediment. The wide range of economic benefits of the site include handicraft production, while the natural resources provided by marshes assure sustainable fishing, rice fields and a unique pharmacopoeia. Threats within the site include habitat destruction for rice cultivation and poaching for local consumption. These practices are a threat for local species such as the Mantidactylus grandidieri frog. This Wetland of International Importance should become the first protected area for fish conservation in Madagascar. Ramsar Site no. 1916. Most recent RIS information: 2010. | Français |Español 

Zone humide de Mandrozo. 05/06/12; Mahajanga; 15,145 ha; 17°32'27"S 044°05'47"E. A permanent freshwater lake surrounded by marshes, irrigated rice farms, and portions of dried forests, as well as savannah lands. Forming part of the western continental waters of the country, it is the fourth largest lake in Madagascar. It supports diverse species throughout their life cycles, including the IUCN Red-Listed Madagascar Big-headed Turtle (Erymnochelys madagascariensis) and the Madagascar Fish-eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides), as well as the Sakalava Rail (Amaurornis olivieri) and a diversity of threatened reptile species. The site is also an important spawning ground and source of food for fishes; it is important for irrigation as well and serves as a source of livelihood for hundreds of dependent families. It also has a cultural value as it is inhabited by typical communities that promote the sustainable management of resources by traditional agricultural and fishery practices. There is an ongoing project for the classification of the site as a protected area, which would also increase its eco-tourism potential. Ramsar Site no. 2049. Most recent RIS information 2012.

Zones humides de Bedo. 12/05/07; Toliary; 1,962 ha; 19º57'S 044º36'E. A wetland complex consisting of the shallow, open Lake Bedo; its surrounding marshes, which are rich in aquatic vegetation; and a permanent river flowing across the forests and feeding the lake and marshes. The Lake Bedo watershed supplies water as runoff during the rainy season and as seepage from hills forming springs, ponds and marshes during the dry season. It hosts at least 34 waterbird species like the endangered Madagascar teal, Madagascar heron, vulnerable Madagascar plover, migratory waterbirds like the greater flamingo and lesser flamingo. It also hosts the endangered Madagascar big-headed turtle and many fish species, some of which breed there. The site is a major source of protein (prawns and fish) and construction material (from tall grassy vegetation) for the riverine populations, who also graze animals there due to availability of water and shade from adjacent forests. A site-specific management plan is under construction by the 'Analabe Bien Unie' Federation (FASM), an organization of the 13 surrounding villages, and will be finalized in the near future. FASM also has plans to support the creation of a local visitor center and materials for receiving visiting schoolchildren in the region. The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust does research on threatened species and collaborates with Wetlands International in doing waterbird counts twice a year. Ramsar site no. 1686. Most recent RIS information: 2007.

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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