Madagascar's fifth Ramsar site

Madagascar's fifth Ramsar site

23 May 2005

Madagascar designates privately-owned lake with high endemism

The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that Madagascar, which joined the Convention in 1998, has designated its fifth Wetland of International Importance, the Parc de Tsarasaotra (5 hectares, 18°52'S 047°32'E), as of 9 May 2005.

As described by Ramsar's Lucia Scodanibbio, based on the RIS submitted with the site designation, Tsarasaotra, one of the smallest Ramsar sites to be designated thus far, is a lake located on the outskirts of Madagascar's capital Antananarivo. Being in an urban environment, it plays an extremely important role in providing a refuge and nesting site 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 has long been privately owned, having belonged to the country's Prime Minister Rainilarivony in 1890, whose descendants sold it to a local family when he was exiled to Algeria in 1896. The Ranarivelo family now protects the site with their available means and is investigating a management plan 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, and in June 2004 it was the venue of WWF International's event dedicated to the Convention on Wetlands, which was part of the closing celebration of its 2004 Annual Conference.

We take this occasion also to commend Madagascar for having provided the Ramsar Secretariat with updated information on the Lac Tsimanampetsotsa site, which was designated in 1998.

Jean-Paul Paddack, Regional Representative, WWF Madagascar/West Indian Ocean Programme Officer (left), and HE Chief Emeka Anyaoka (center), surrounded by the Ranarivelos, owners of the Parc Privé de Tsarasaotra, then a proposed Ramsar Site, June 2004.

The Parc privé de Tsarasaotra, newest Ramsar Site, in 2004.

Parc privé de Tsarasaotra