Madagascar’s 2 new sites in Mahajanga province

18/06/2012
The government of Madagascar has designated two new Wetlands of International Importance, effective as of 5 June 2012, bringing that Party's total number of Ramsar Sites to 9, covering a total area of 1,175,011 hectares. As described by Ramsar Assistant Advisor for Africa, Ms Charlotte Eyong, based on the accompanying Ramsar Information Sheets, Lac Kinkony (13,800 hectares, 16°08'S 045°49'E) is 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. The site is also a BirdLife International Important Bird Area.

The second new site, Zone humide de Mandrozo (15,145 hectares, 17°32'27"S 044°05'47"E), is also 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.

The full Ramsar Information Sheest and maps will be soon available on Wetlands International's Ramsar Sites Information Service, and both of the new sites can be found on the Critical Site Network Tool developed by Wetlands International, BirdLife International, and UNEP-WCMC as part of the Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) project.

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