Madagascar joins the Convention, names first Resolution VI.5 Ramsar site
The Bureau is delighted to announce that as of 25 September 1998, Madagascar has become the 113th Contracting Party to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, so that the treaty will come into force for Madagascar on 25 January 1999. Two sites were named as the new Partys first Wetlands of International Importance, one of them a Ramsar landmark event. The first of the sites, Lac Tsimanampetsotsa, comprises the Réserve Naturelle Intégrale de Tsimanampetsotsa and the zone to the west of the lake for a surface area of 45,604 hectares. Located in the province of Toliara near the southwest coast, not far from Efoetse, the site has been designated by virtue of Criteria 1(d) rare or unusual wetland in the biogeogaphical region and 2(a) appreciable assemblage of rare, vulnerable or endangered species. Wetland Types listed are Q: Permanent saline/brackish/alkaline lakes and Zk: Subterranean karst and cave hydrological systems, the latter because along the east side of the lake it is bounded by chalk cliffs containing caves and subterranean freshwater rivers which host, inter alia, a vulnerable species of blind fish called Typhleotris madagascariensis; in addition, the Cave Mitoho is a sacred site.
This is the first Ramsar site ever to have been listed in the Wetland Type added to the Ramsar Classification System by Resolution VI.5 (1996) on subterranean karst wetlands.
The second newly designated site is called the Complexe des lacs de Manambolomaty, which includes Lakes Soamalipo, Befotaka, Ankerika, and Antsamaka, some 7,491 hectares located in the province of Mahajanga in west central Madagascar, not far from Antsalova. It includes 10% of the world population of the eagle Haliaeetus vociferoides, which is endemic and "Critically Endangered", as well the endemic freshwater tortoise Erymnochelys madagascariensis in what the Madagascar National Ramsar Committee argued is one of the most important populations of this species which is fast disappearing elsewhere in western Madagascar.
The Convention warmly welcomes Madagascar to the Ramsar family and particularly thanks WWF Madagascar for its work in helping to achieve this important and very happy result.
Richard Lewis contributed this additional information to the Ramsar Forum on 11 November:
Concerning the new Madagascar Ramsar site, Complexe des lacs de Manambolomaty, it is not just a key site for the endangered Madagascar Fish-eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides) and the Madagascar side-necked turtle (Erymnochelys madagascariensis), but also at various times of the year holds the largest known concentration of the endangered endemic duck, the Madagascar teal (Anas bernieri). It is an important feeding and moulting site for the teal and many other duck species.
Conservation strategies for this complex of four lakes are being developed through a collaborative approach involving the local communities, the Ministry of Water and Forests, the Peregrine Fund, and Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust (JWPT).
Richard Lewis - JWPT, Madagascar.