Madagascar Conservation & Development

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Taboos and social contracts: Tools for ecosystem management – lessons from the Manambolomaty Lakes RAMSAR site, western Madagascar

J Rabearivony, E Fanameha, J Mampiandra, R Thorstrom


Traditional taboos and social contracts played an important
role in managing the Manambolomaty RAMSAR site. Taboos
are defined as a prohibition imposed by social custom as a
protective measure’ and social contracts are – in conservation
sense – a common agreement for achieving conservation,
sustainable development and development of resources
objectives. The Manambolomaty Lakes RAMSAR site, District of
Antsalova in western Madagascar, is composed of four lakes
(Soamalipo, Befotaka, Ankerika and Antsamaka) surrounded
by the Tsimembo deciduous forest. The first three lakes with
forest surrounding encompass 14,701 ha and are being managed
by two local Associations: FIZAMI (FIkambanana Zanatany
Andranobe MIray) and FIFAMA (FIkambanana FAmpandrosoana
Mamokatra Ankerika). The associations have used traditional
taboos and social conventions to manage their local natural
resources by incorporating a GELOSE (GEstion Locale SEcurisée)
management system to conserve biological diversity, maintain
resource sustainability and socio - economic viability. This site
has the highest concentration of the endemic and critically
endangered Madagascar fish eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides),
representing 10 % of the global population, and many other
species of different faunal groups are also in good conservation
status such as Decken’s sifaka (Propithecus deckeni) and
Western lesser bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur occidentalis) and
Madagascar flying fox (Pteropus rufus). Culturally, the site is
known as a unique source of the endemic tree Hazomalania
voyroni (Hernandiaceae), which is used by the Sakalava people
for constructing coffins, and being buried in a coffin made
of this wood is a great honour for the Sakalava people. From
Manambolomaty’s Lakes fish yields, estimated at 60 - 100 tons
per fishing season, FIZAMI and FIFAMA are one of the few
Malagasy Associations with active bank accounts supported
by management of their natural resources and associated
activities. Their fisheries management system has increased
the annual local revenue estimated at more than $ 1,562
US / fisherman per season. The tax of fish sales to wholesale
fish buyers forms 56 % of the two local Commune’s budgets. This has made the Community - Based Wetlands Conservation at the Manambolomaty Lakes site well known in the conservation circles within Madagascar and has been modelled vy other organizations and associations. Consequently, the Manambolomaty Lakes site is in the process of being added into the System of Protected Areas of Madagascar (SAPM) (Figure 1).
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