Lake Bedo added to the Ramsar List


Madagascar adds sixth Wetland of International Importance

In ceremonies on 12 May 2007, the government of Madagascar is celebrating World Migratory Birds Day by placing Lake Bedo and its surrounding marshes on the List of Wetlands of International Importance and dedicating the site as a WWF Gift to the Earth.

As summarized by Ramsar's Evelyn Parh Moloko, the Zones humides de Bedo (1,962 hectares, 19º57'S 044º36'E) in Toliary Province near the western coast is 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.

The site 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.

WWF Madagascar and the WWF Global Freshwater Programme were helpful to the authorities in preparing for this important designation.

-- photos by Glyn Young, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

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