Wildlife Madagascar Field Site: Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve

  • Location: SAVA Region, northeast Madagascar
  • Management category: Special Reserve — an IUCN Category IV protected area
  • Current Management: Madagascar National Parks
  • Site size: 374.8 square kilometers (144.7 square miles)
Star indicates location of Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve in northeast Madagascar.

First established in 1958, Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve (ASSR) is a protected area located in northeast Madagascar. It covers 37,480 hectares (92,615 acres) of intact, primary evergreen forest, from mid to high elevation. Located west of Andapa, the park is remote and currently visited only rarely, since most tourists go to the more well-known Marojejy National Park.

Biodiversity in ASSR

ASSR is home to 13 species of lemurs, including a population of Madagascar’s largest lemur species, the indri. This is the northernmost limit of the indri’s range. Interestingly, the coloration of this population is nearly entirely black, a very unusual color morph that is distinct from the black-and-white indri found farther south. Another important population of lemurs in ASSR is the silky sifaka, a species that is often included on the list of the Top 25 Most Endangered Primates in the World.

  • Indri (Indri indri) Critically Endangered
  • Silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus) Critically Endangered
  • Hairy-eared dwarf lemur (Allocebus trichotis) Endangered
  • Masoala fork-marked lemur (Phaner furcifer) Endangered
  • Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) Endangered
  • White-fronted brown lemur (Eulemur albifrons) Vulnerable
  • Red-bellied lemur (Eulemur rubriventer) Vulnerable
  • Northern bamboo lemur (Hapalemur occidentalis) Vulnerable
  • Eastern woolly lemur (Avahi laniger) Vulnerable
  • Seal’s sportive lemur (Lepilemur seali) Vulnerable
  • Greater dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus major) Vulnerable
  • Crossley’s dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus crossleyi) Vulnerable
  • Goodman’s mouse lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara) Not Determined

In addition to lemurs, there are 52 mammal species also found in ASSR, and there are 112 bird species, including the helmet vanga and the Madagascar serpent-eagle, both of high interest. The area is also known for its incredible diversity of herpetofauna, including 43 species of amphibians and 43 species of reptiles. Few assessments have been carried out within ASSR, though, so undoubtedly there are still many discoveries to be made.

Botanically, the area is also known for its incredible floral diversity, but more extensive botanical inventories are needed. The top highlight is the Endangered Takhtajania perrieri, a small tree species with aromatic leaves that is only known in a few locations in northern Madagascar. ASSR has the largest number of these trees, approximately 250.

Current Threats Facing ASSR

Assessments conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List demonstrate that overexploitation affects 62.1% of vertebrate species, and unsustainable agricultural practices affect 56.8%. IUCN’s assessments also show these practices affect nearly 90% of all Madagascar’s plant species. Following is a list of the major threats to ASSR.  

  • Shifting agriculture (slash-and-burn)
  • Selective logging (plank-making)
  • Collection of secondary forest products (traditional medicine)
  • Hunting (snares, slingshots, and occasionally firearms)
  • Various forms of freshwater fishing (eels, freshwater shrimp, fish, and crabs)
  • Artisanal small-scale mining (such as for quartz and amethyst)
  • Uncontrolled fires, typically along park boundaries
  • Invasive animal species (feral dogs and cats, Indian civet, and black rats)
  • Invasive plant species (Clidemia hirta, Lantana camara, Psidium cattleyanum)

Improving the management of existing official Protected Areas—through initiatives including agricultural training and livelihood enhancement such as ecotourism—is more important than creating new Protected Areas.