Two of the treks Centre Lambahoany organises with its local partners in the rural community Fetraomby have now a new place of interest to visit. At almost the end of the five-day trek the tourists arrive in Razanaka, a rural village. Here they will spend a night to take the bamboo raft the next morning. But now they can have one more exciting experience before returning to their daily life. A path has been cleared to a cave where a group of bats sleep during the day to swarm off to feed on mosquitos and other insects at sundown. An unforgettable sight!

Post 22 bats 2 aug 2016 IMG_5229-2 Post 22 bats 6 aug 201 6IMG_5236-2 Post 22 bats 5 aug 2016 IMG_5235-2

The Fosa is Madagascar’s largest predator – apart from the crocodile. It is a civet-like animal but it differs considerably from the African civets. An adult Fosa measures about two metres, the tail included. Like real cats the Fosa can draw its claws and is thus an expert climber. It feeds on lemurs. It is hard to spot the fosa as it is nocturnal and secretive. It should not be confused with the fanalouc and the falanoka, other predators, a bit smaller than the fosa. All three named foosa by the local population. Fosa 2 Fosa 3

The European Union has allocated 15 million Euro to support six countries around the Indian Ocean to sustainably improve their Coastal and Marine Biodiversity. The project will be implemented by the Indian Ocean Commission. The six countries concerned are the island Mauritius, the Comoros and Seychelles archipelagos and the countries Tanzania, Kenya and Madagascar. Part of the money – 4.5 million Euro – is designated for small projects by either NGO’s or elected local authorities.


The project is to counter the threats to the rich biodiversity with many endemic species, threats like uncontrolled exploitation of resources, including the waters of the Indian Ocean, degradation of the soil and invasive species that displace the endemic animals.


The Madagascar pochard – arguably the world’s rarest bird – has bred successfully in captivity building hope that it can be saved from extinction.


Eighteen precious pochard ducklings are being reared at a specially built centre in Antsohihy, Madagascar, opened last year by Dr Lee Durrell. The birth of the ducklings is a key milestone in the conservation of the species, including an emergency expedition two years ago to take eggs into captivity. It is the ducks from those eggs that have now bred for the first time.

The pochard breeding programme is part of a joint project to save the bird by Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), the Peregrine Fund, Asity Madagascar and the Government of Madagascar.

Dr Glyn Young, a conservation biologist with Durrell, has spent much of his life studying the Madagascar pochard. He said: “The ducklings represent an incredible step forward in the fight to save the pochard from extinction. Seven years ago, people thought this bird was already extinct and yet the discovery of one small population and now the arrival of these ducklings has led to real hope that the birds can one day flourish again.”

The pochard was believed to be extinct until its rediscovery in 2006 on a single small lake, Lake Matsaborimena (or Red Lake), in northern Madagascar. Numbering just 22 birds, the ducks remain extremely vulnerable to extinction from a single event such as pollution or a disease outbreak.

In order to restore the species to suitable wetlands within its former range across the high plateau region of Madagascar, scientists are studying the remaining wild population to understand the reasons behind the species’ decline and to determine the right conditions for releasing birds. Particularly worrying is that the wild birds appear to have very low breeding success.

Peter Cranswick, Head of Species Recovery at WWT said: “Although Lake Matsaborimena is the last hiding place for the ducks, it is far from ideal as a habitat. Our initial investigations suggest there is too little food and this may be leading to the low survival of the ducklings; in effect, they are starving to death.

“We have identified some lakes where the physical conditions are potentially right for the pochard, but success will depend on support of the local community. Fishing is thought to be one factor that led to the pochard’s decline but many rural Malagasy people earn their livelihood from fishing. The challenge is to find a solution that helps both the people and the birds.”

In addition to the breeding centre where the ducklings are being reared, a major facility will be developed this year where young birds will be trained prior to release into the wild. Malagasy conservationists are learning the skills needed to breed and rear pochards.

Source: Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (also the source of our featured image).

Fetraomby celebrated World Tourism Day. It was at the same time an opportunity to inform the world about the beginning of several new projects in the vicinity. All projects have the same aim: nature conservation and community development, in this still rich but already endangered part of the rainforests of East Madagascar.

Our partner organization RIANALA did a great job. Extra boats had been organized to transport authorities and tourists to Fetraomby. All tourist accommodations were, as always, in top shape. So was the village: the celebration started with the proclamation of the winner of the match ‘cleaning the village’. A boat race and a sack race were the next items on the programme, followed by a football match, which was won by the Fetraomby team!

As soon as it was dark enough, around 6 p.m., several instructive documentaries about the environment were projected on a big screen. Despite the drizzle the entire villages and all visitors from neighbouring villages were captivated. Television is already a rarity in these parts, let alone a big screen. The Friday evening was rounded off with a disco for the young. It lasted until the early hours of Saturday morning.

Folkloristische Dans

Saturday commenced with a more serious part of the programme: saluting the flag, singing the national hymn. Then M. Etienne, chairperson of Rianala welcomed the district manager, the district had of the gendarmerie, the mayor, and the representatives of the organisations contributing to the nature conservation and community development projects. The speeches by the authorities alternated with folkloristic dances, a match in eloquence (kabary) and poetry, a little boy demonstrating his ability in back flips and another little boy mimicking several birds, much to the amusement of the public. Especially the cock was a great success.

After giving out the prices to the winners, lunch was ready. Unfortunately authorities and tourists had to eat from plates, others used ravinala (traveller palm leaves) both as plate and as spoon.

The afternoon was dedicated to a visit of the pierre bizarre, a sacred place, only to be visited after a ceremony for the ancestors, and once again the young were treated on a disco.

Rianala wants to thank all sponsors who made this happening possible, first and foremost Ambatovy, but also Aspinall, Conservation International and Centre Lambahoany.

Rainforests of Atsinanana, East-Madagascar on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Last July the UNESCO World Heritage Committee inscribed the rainforests of Antsinanana on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Their reason to do so is: “…because of illegal logging and hunting of endangered lemurs on the site. The Committee noted that despite a decree outlawing the exploitation and export of rosewood and ebony, Madagascar continues to provide export permits for illegally logged timber. It also noted that countries that had ratified the World Heritage Convention are known destinations for this timber. The Committee urged Madagascar to take all necessary measures to enforce the decree and halt illegal logging activities. It also encouraged the State Party to organise a high level meeting of countries concerned to ensure that illegal timber originating from Madagascar is both banned and prevented from entering their national markets.

Lemurs are depending on the rainforest for survivalHaving completed its separation from all other land masses more than 60 million years ago, Madagascar’s plant and animal life evolved in isolation. The Rainforests of Atsinanana, comprising six national parks on the eastern side of the country, are critically important for maintaining ongoing ecological processes necessary for the survival of the island’s unique biodiversity, which reflects its geological history. Many species are rare and threatened, especially primates and lemurs.”

Some of our ecotreks include parts of the rainforests of Antsinanana. Our partners in Madagascar do their best to preserve the rainforests and together with other organisations counterbalance this devastating development.