Madagascar establishes spectacular national parkAntananarivo, Madagascar - The Andringitra National Park, in south-east Madagascar, was launched today by the Malagasy government. This new protected area has the best ecotourism possibilities the island has to offer, the conservation organization WWF said.
The activities undertaken in Andringitra by WWF and different partners since 1993 have aimed at encouraging local communities to participate in the decision-making process required for conserving and developing this area sustainably (1). The area's great tourism potential resides specifically in the possibilities it offers for research, environmental education and sport like rock climbing and hiking.
"With the sole exception of the spiny dry forests of the south and south-west of the island, Andringitra is like a concentrated sample of all the natural wealth Madagascar has to offer," explains Lantosoa Ramarojaona, Coordinator of Integrated Conservation Development Projects at the WWF Madagascar Programme Office.
WWF's implemented management decisions aim at developing a type of tourism that will protect the natural wealth of the area and help the social and economic interests of local communities, while promoting their traditional values. It is with this in mind that some 40 kilometres of hiking paths and four different camping sites have been prepared within the park (2).
The 31,160-hectare national park lies between two older protected areas, Ranomafana and Isalo National Parks. As a natural area it is in a class of its own, characterized by a very high diversity in plant and animal life and a large variety of endemic species. Andringitra exhibits tropical moist forests, dense montane forests and high mountain prairies crowned by massive granite boulders (3). The highly accessible Boby Peak (2,658 metres above sea level) is Madagascar's second highest mountain, and one of the area's additional attractions (4).
"Perhaps the greatest strength of the project is the support it has received from the local Betsileo, Bara and Tanala communities," says Joseph Ralaiarivony, National Director of the project. "They have been a receptive audience and have allowed us to work within their rich social and cultural traditions to address conservation issues such as the need to prevent forest fires. Because of their great sense of community, their commitment is very strong".
Some 196 villages, home to about 15,000 people, exist around the new national park. Their full inclusion in the project is one of the main reasons for their current enthusiasm for the new National Park.
For more information, please contact: Samuel Andriankotonirina, WWF Madagascar Programme Office, Antananarivo, tel. +261 20 22 34 885/34 638/30 420 ; Sylvain Rafiadana-Ntsoa, WWF Madagascar Programme Office, tel. as above, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ; Javier Arreaza, Africa & Madagascar Programme, WWF International, Gland, Switzerland, tel. +41 22 364 9267, e-mail: email@example.com
NOTES TO EDITORS
WWF has been carrying out integrated conservation and development activities in Andringitra in collaboration with the National Association for the Management of Protected Areas (ANGAP) and with funding from the Malagasy Government, the German aid agency KfW and the WWF network itself.
- For information on how to visit Andringitra National Park, please contact the WWF Madagascar Programme Office, Antananarivo, Madagascar, tel. +261 20 22 34 885/34 638/30 420, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The grass fields of the Andohariana plateau are the only natural mountain prairies in Madagascar. Over 30 different species of orchids can be seen there every year, between the months of January and March. In terms of fauna, nearly half of the non-flying mammal species existing in Madagascar can be found in Andringitra, including 14 species of lemur. Very few numbers of one particular species, the Golden Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur aureus), was discovered only in 1996 in neighbouring Ranomafana National Park, in very few numbers. In Andringitra, however, this species -- which feeds on a particular type of bamboo known for its cyanide content with no ill effects whatsoever -- has an extensive presence.
- Many of its particular geological features have led scientists to believe that the area is a remnant of the huge continent known as Gondwana, which existed during the Secondary Era and spread over Australia, Africa, India, Arabia, South America and Antarctica.