BOISE, Idaho – The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the government of Madagascar recently declared the Mandrozo Lake region to have international significance in the effort to preserve the Earth’s biodiversity.
The worldwide recognition is good news for the Madagascar Fish Eagle and other endangered animals, said Russell Thorstrom, director of Madagascar and West Indies projects for The Peregrine Fund, an Idaho-based conservation group focused on birds of prey.
“We have been working in this area for five years and have vigorously sought this recognition,” Thorstrom said. “We are delighted and grateful that Ramsar and the government of Madagascar understand how important Mandrozo is for both the wildlife and people that depend on it for survival.”
Mandrozo, the fourth largest lake in Madagascar, is located about 6 miles inland from the island nation’s western coast. On June 5, Ramsar designated Mandrozo Lake and Kinkony Lake as Wetlands of International Importance, bringing Madagascar’s number of Ramsar sites to nine.
The designation supports a push by The Peregrine Fund for permanent protection of the Mandrozo area and other ecologically significant regions by the government of Madagascar, Thorstrom said.
“We have completed all the steps necessary for the Malagasy government to declare the larger Tambohorano region, which includes Mandrozo Lake, to be part of the Protected Areas System and are awaiting final approval,” Thorstrom said. The Peregrine Fund also is working to have two other areas added to the Protected Areas System, the Manambolomaty and Bealanana regions.
Besides the endangered Madagascar Fish Eagle, Mondrozo supports a variety of species, including endangered turtles and threatened reptiles. The lake’s fishery is critical to the survival of the fish eagle and to the families whose livelihoods depend on it, Thorstrom said.
The Peregrine Fund promotes the sustainability of the Mandrozo area by collaborating with local residents and supporting their efforts to manage their own natural resources. The nonprofit also has introduced alternative agricultural and forestry practices. In the last year, The Peregrine Fund has helped supply equipment to a local fire prevention committee, install informational signs on local resource management, reforest the area with 25,000 trees, and provide fiberglass canoes and efficient fish-drying ovens to stem the rate of deforestation.
“Early on, we wanted to help the Malagasy people help themselves to conserve endangered birds of prey and other wildlife,” Thorstrom said.
Madagascar has 24 species of birds of prey; three of them are endangered, including the Madagascar Fish Eagle. Two raptor species had not been seen for more than 60 years until they were rediscovered by The Peregrine Fund. The organization’s field work also resulted in the discovery of a diving duck thought to be extinct and two new lemur species.
“Our on-the-ground research continues to fill the void of knowledge on endangered and poorly-known Malagasy birds of prey so that we can devise sound conservation plans,” Thorstrom said. “Protecting areas like Mandrozo Lake will ensure that these ecosystems endure for the benefit of wildlife and people well into the future.”
More information about The Peregrine Fund’s Madagascar Project:
|Director of Community Engagement|