The inventories and observations of the animal and plant species of Anjajavy are testimony to its great biological wealth, with no fewer than five critically endangered species, 15 in danger of extinction and 13 vulnerable to extinction. The large majority of these species are endemic to Madagascar or to the nearby region.
Each year naturalist observations from our visitors – scientific or amateur – keep updating a significant number of new or described species. Some of them, like the Tahina Spectabilis Palm Tree, led to great excitement in the scientific community.
Here, biodiversity is exceptional not just for the great joy and satisfaction it brings to eco-tourists, but also for science. Due to unsustainable human activity, dry forest habitats disappear at a very high rate. The high-end eco-tourism of Anjajavy is an economic alternative for the coastal communities and an opportunity to organize the sustainability of natural resources. The customers of Anjajavy le Lodge ask to see concrete results. Each visitor contributes to the greater knowledge and protection of this endangered ecosystem.
The Explosive Palm of Madagascar (Tahina spectabilis) was discovered in 2006 by a French family picnicking near Moramba Bay.
The Island of Madagascar is home to more than 200 types of palm tree 90% of which don’t exist anywhere else in the world. The Explosive Palm is so different from other palms that it warranted the creation of a completely new genus, the Tahina. Its genetic evolutionar line is a real curiosity for the scientific community. Its closest relatives are found in Vietnam, South China, Thailand and Afghanistan. How, and during which period was it possible for the ancestor of the Tahina to reach the island of Madagascar?
Another rare feature of this palm is that it only flowers once in its life after 50 to 100 years bursting into one of the largest inflorescence of all existing palms (six to eight meters), then dying. With a height of 15 meters and with leaves as wide as five meters, this giant is extremely rare with only 92 specimens and about 100 shoots identified in this habitat of origin.
It was subsequently chosen as one of the top natural discoveries of 2008, 2009 and 2010. Protective measures in its natural habitat have been put in place. Reforestation in the large nature reserve of Anjajavy at less than 30 kilometers of its place of discovery is a good way to keep this palm in its native habitat while at the same time generating revenue for the neighbouring villagers by selling the seeds.
These animals rub shoulders with many of their cousins in the reserve. Other species of lemurs run free in the neighbouring gardens and reserves in search of food according to the law of nature. They are never fed by staff or visitors, but they make the most of the green tranquility of the gardens of Anjajavy le Lodge. Their life is that of wild animals ; they must for instance be careful of their natural predators like the Madagascan Boa often lying in ambush, the skillful and quiet fossa or the Madagascan Harrier-hawk.
One species of lemur originally in the reserve, the strange Aye-aye, was wiped out well before the creation of the hotel 30 years ago. The animal was hurt by local superstitions. Through eco-tourism, mentalities have progressed. With the support of the University of Antananarivo and MBT lemur research team fielded by the Henry Doorly Zoo of Omaha, Nebraska, in the United States, Anjajavy le Lodge now carries out a programme for the reintroduction of this animal in danger of extinction in the Greater Reserve of Anjajavy.
The Malagasy Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides), called «Ankoay» in Malagasy, is a large bird of prey endemic to the coastal strip North-West of Madagascar.
Various estimations place the number of remaining breeding pairs to be between 40 and 150. This bird may therefore be one of the rarest on Earth.
We must act fast in order to protect the three to six pairs between Anjajavy Reserve and Moramba Bay.
The main threats for the future of this majestic bird at the top of the food chain are ones destroying its breeding habitat such as deforestation, soil erosion and the development of wetlands for rice fields. It is also in direct competition with fishermen for fish stocks.
The focus of the preservation in Anjajavy is currently on the large Anjajavy forest, a wetland area of 1,400 hectares (3,500 acres) comprised of tannes and mangroves, as well as a marine strip of 180 hectares opposite the hotel creeks where fishing is prohibited. The contribution of the hotel towards the preservation of an adjacent larger marine area along the coast up to the site near Moramba Bay where two to three pairs live, could be envisaged in the near future.
Numerous magnificent birds, rare and endemic, can be observed by naturalists and birdwatchers, the most enthusiastic of which know the international reputation of Anjajavy.
Anjajavy is for instance, one of the best places in the world to see the Madagascan Fish-Eagle (Halliaeetus vociferoides), the shy Madagascan Crested Ibis (Lophotibis cristata) and the elegant Madagascan Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis bernieri). The freshwater lakes in the vicinity are a refuge for the Dendrocygninae (Thalassornis leuconotus, Dendrocygna viduata, Dendrocygna bicolor), several species of wild ducks (Anas erythorhyncha, Anas hottentota, Sarkidiornis melanotos) and a great number of waders (Butorides striatus, Calidris alba, Ardea cinerea, Ardea goliath, Ardea humbloti, Ardea purpurea, Ardeola idea, Ardeola ralloides…).
The gardens and immediate surroundings of the lodge are not to be outdone, with a diverse array of colors such as the metallic green Sunbird (Nectarnia souimanga), the red Madagascan Fody (Foudia madagascariensis), the yellow headed Sakalava Weaver (Ploceus sakalava) as well as a kaleidoscope of shapes such as the Malagasy Flycatcher (Terpsiphone mutata) and its thin tail, the Madagascan Hoopoe (Upupa epops marginata) and its speckled crest or the Sickle-billed Vanga with its long hook-tipped bill. Almost daily, flocks of Madagascan Grey-headed Lovebirds (Agapornis cana) dance a ballet whilst feeding on seeds on the lawn as guests enjoy their breakfast nearby.
Anjajavy is home to an amazing diversity of lizards and other reptiles: the tropical climate and regular sunshine provide the perfect environment for about 40 species. Each tree seems to accommodate a gold-flecked gecko or a chameleon. Will your favourite be the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis) with its shiny black eyes and its dazzling green body splashed with red? Or perhaps you will prefer the strange-looking Spearpoint Leaf-tail Gecko (Uroplatus ebenaui) which seems to come straight out of a fairytale.
Chameleons – for which Madagascar is a famous homeland – are represented by five species, the largest one (Furcifer oustaleti), the most colourful one (Furcifer pardalis) and smaller ones (Brookesia sp.).
Do snakes make you nervous? In Madagascar and in Anjajavy in particular, you can watch snakes without any apprehension, as all species are completely harmless to humans. Snake lovers must keep their eyes open for the strange-looking Malagasy Leaf-nosed Snake (Langaha sp.), the magnificent black or blond Madagascar Hog-nosed Snake (Leioheterodon madagascariensis, Leioheterodon modestus) or the large Madagascan Ground Boa (Acrantophis madagascariensis) of which Anjajavy had the honor to have the largest specimen ever recorded in the entire history of Madagascar, Big George measured more than 2.70 meters and weighed 8.3 kilograms.
Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata, Chelonias mydas, Lepidochelys olivacea, Caretta caretta) come and lay their eggs on a regular basis on the beaches of the peninsula, and hatchings are memorable moments.
The largest mammal of Madagascar is endemic to the island. Even though it looks similar to a puma, it is actually more closely related to the mongoose and civet. Very comfortable in trees, its long tail helps the animal to balance itself on the branches and its very flexible legs allow it to go down tree trunks head down.
The main predator of the lemurs, this mammal is essential to the health of the lemur population as it kills the sick or weakest. Its territory is between 1,300 and 2,600 hectares in size. The fossa is vulnerable to extinction. As a chicken and cattle hunter, it is seldom welcome around homes.
We feel privileged that a female fossa chooses one of the highest trees in the private reserve during its annual oestrus at the end of November. The males of the region then gather in honor of the event. It is on this occasion that the Nature Festival of Anjajavy takes place in order to raise awareness amongst the residents of the reserve for the protection of these animals who do, in fact, cause some economic damage in the villages.
A compensation fund was created to help villagers adapt (for ex. special henhouses) to the presence of these animals which attract the eco-tourists.