The New protected area Mangoky-Ihotry complex
The wetlands Mangoky-Ihotry complex is located in the province of Toliara and Morondava between Toliara and Morondava. It is located some 350 km north of Toliara and its relatively inaccessibility makes it to be a rarely visited place by foreigners. It is connected to the capital (via Toliara or Morondava) twice a week (check with Air Madagascar), though most travellers opt for the 4x4 option from Morondava or for a long pirogue ride from Belo-sur-Mer. Covering an area of 315,000 hectares, it is part of the District of Morombe, on the southwest coast of Madagascar. It consists of the Lake Ihotry and its surrounding lakes (south), Delta Mangoky river and maritime space (north) and marshes around the Ankiliabo road and Nosy Ambositra (far at east). Mangoky-Ihotry is a new protected area classified in Category V of IUCN. The management of the protected area mainly aims to ensure the conservation of terrestrial and marine landscapes and maintain the cultural and aesthetic values, may have recreation.
The complex provides connectivity of protected areas in the southwest of Madagascar (Kirindy-Mitea, Menabe, Mikea, Tsimanampetsotsa), enabling genetic exchange and increase the chances of survival of species to climate change.
It offers different types of habitats (rivers, mangroves, lakes and forests) including waterbirds (Threskiornis bernieri, Ardea humbloti, Ardeola idae Anas bernieri). 114 bird species have been recorded there, of which 23 are endemic to Madagascar. Other endemic species were also identified such as ring-tailed lemur and Verreaux's sifaka, carnivorous Cryptoprocta ferox (Fossa), fish Paratilapia polleni and the highly endangered turtle Erymnochelys madagascariensis. It is has always served as a refuge for large bird colonies, and the surrounding forests are dominated by many Andanas Grandadieri baobab trees, especially east of the lake. True sanctuary of the aquatic avifauna of the whole South West region of Madagascar causing gatherings of 10 000 to 15 000 birds. It also serves as a refuge for several migratory species and a large colony of flamingos. During the dry season, muddy areas attract large numbers of waders, and the site is also a dry-season refuge for waterbirds that use the seasonal wetlands between Morombe and Toliara.
As for plant diversity, over 150 species in 50 families were identified in all of the new terrestrial protected area Mangoky-Ihotry. 7% of the plant species present status threatened by IUCN and 99% have a use value for the population (edible plant, medicinal plant, plant to use traditional...).
Lake Ihotry is the second largest lake in Madagascar. It is a large basin that holds fluvial runoff before it subsides through the sand into the sea. Depending on the year the salty waters of the lake full of algae attract a few to thousands of flamingos. The residents of these villages are mostly Mikea, with historical roots in the Namonte Basin. They were forcibly relocated to these villages in the early 20th century as a result of French colonial policies.
On site, you will be alone, tete-a-tete with several species of lemurs and the rarest, carnivorous mammal Fossa, which live in the surrounding forests. The water of the brackish lake shelters only Tilapia and there is no infrastructure around the lake.