ANDASIBE NATIONAL PARIK.
Andasibe or Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is a 155 square kilometre protected area, located about 150 km east of Antananarivo, consisting principally of primary growth forest in Alaotra-Mangoro Region in eastern Madagascar. The park’s elevation ranges from 800 to 1260 meters, with a humid climate. Average annual precipitation is 1700 mm, with rainfall on 210 days of each year. This rainforest is habitat to a vast species biodiversity, including many endemic rare species and endangered species, including 11 lemur species. The park’s two component parts are Mantadia National Park and Analamazoatra Reserve, which is best known for its population of Madagascar’s largest lemur, the indri.
The national park was nominated in 2007 to become part of the World Heritage Site of Rainforests of the Atsinanana. However, its forests were not selected for the final list.
This is one of the easiest parks in Madagascar to visit from the capital city, Antananarivo, with a 3-hour drive east on a paved road, Route Nationale 2 (RN 2). While Analamazaotra and park headquarters are short walks from Antsapanana on the RN 2, special transport must be arranged or hired from local hotels to reach Mantadia. Hikes ranging from 1–6 hours are typically available in both parts of the park. A local guide is required for visitors entering either part of the park.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Andasibe-Mantadia is inhabited by more than 100 bird species, endless amphibians, reptiles, insects, and 14 lemur species. The loudest and most famous animal is the Indri (Indri indri) jumping through the treetops, whose calls reach far away through the forest and awake many guests in the morning. Diademed sifakas (Propithecus diadema) and black and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata) live inside these rainforests, too. All three species as well as several others can be watched inside the national park quite well, especially Indris and diademed sifakas are rather used to humans and may be watched sometimes in only a few meter distance.
Reptile lovers will be lucky to see a subspecies of the Parson’s chameleon, Calumma parsonii cristifer, but also other chameleons like. Calumma brevicorne or Furcifer wilsii. Day geckos live all around the park and often you find them on huts and palm trees taking sunbaths. The completely harmless Malagasy tree boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis) crawls on the ground and climbs trees here, too. Insect lovers can discover strange, only here occurring bugs like lantern bugs (Zanna pauliani) or the famous giraffe necked weevil (Trachelophorus giraffae). Do you prefer plants? Then Andasibe could be your favorite, too: Rare orchids, a huge number of tree ferns and other endemic plants offer pure variety. Unfortunately, the endemic flora is interrupted in several places by invasive introduced species like European pine, Australian eucalyptus, or Asian bamboo. But the local people strive to stem the growth of these intruders.
LOCATION OF THE ANDASIBE NATIONAL PARK
The village Andasibe is located only 130 km east of Antananarivo and therefore only a few hours away from the capital of Madagascar, in the region Alaotra Mangoro. The easy accessibility is one of many advantages. The national park is situated nearby RN2 on the way to Toamasina (Tamatave). The preferred travel option is the own car including a driver, but Taxibrousse drives there regularly, too. Sadly, the last ones tend to be late, have accidents, and are usually overcrowded. Unfortunately, RN2 has worsened during the last years, so you up to date need about four hours to drive from Tana to Andasibe.
THE BACKGROUND OF ANDASIBE NATIONAL PARK.
The Analamazaotra (or Périnet) Special Reserve (ASR), known locally as Andasibe after the nearby village, was once part of the larger Mantadia National Park which also included Maromizaha Classified Forest to the southeast and Anosibe an’ala to the south. However, logging and deforestation for farming has resulted in these parks now being isolated.
The main threat to this park comes from the disappearance of adjoining habitat outside the park. This disappearance has been caused primarily by logging and replacement of rain-forest with commercial Australian eucalyptus and Chinese pine forests, and to a lesser extent by slash-and-burn cultivation for rice agriculture, which is exacerbated by the extremely high population growth rate and poverty in rural Madagascar.
To address the disappearing habitat threat, reserves have been created in the vicinity of Andasibe-Mantadia that balance resource extraction with environmental protection, and attempt to create economic and environmentally preferable alternatives to replacing native forests with eucalyptus and pine.
In 2006, the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, in collaboration with Madagascar National Parks and Eaux et Fôret initiated the Analamazaotra Re-introduction/Translocation (ART) project to reintroduce two endangered species of lemur back into the park. The aim was to take lemurs from threatened areas where habitat loss means the incumbent population is unsustainable, and relocate them to the relative safety of the Analamazaotra Special Reserve. The program followed the IUCN re-introduction/translocation guidelines, with family group monitoring before and after translocation.
By 2014, the ART project had reintroduced three groups comprising 26 diademed sifaka and 8 black-and-white ruffed lemurs into the park. The project’s multi-disciplinary team tracked the reintroduced groups using radio collars, and collected fecal samples to evaluate biomedical, genetic, habitat, nutritional and reproductive characteristics of the lemurs.
The project has so far been very successful, and visitors to this popular reserve have been lucky enough to see two generations of babies born at the park. The ART project also helps the local community by education and provides two local guides.
ACCOMMODATION AT ANDASIBE NATIONAL PARK.
Andasibe Hotel is situated in the forest near the entrance to Analamazoatra Reserve, which is part of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. Lodging is in 20 bungalows built along two ridgelines and back dropped by high, dense forest. The spacious rooms are simple but stylish, with clean lines and bright accent colors. Modern comforts include en suite bathrooms with hot showers, heaters for cool winter evenings, charging outlets in every room, mini bar, satellite TV, and Wi-Fi is available in the reception and restaurant areas. Each room is individually decorated and has a small private veranda for taking in the surroundings, with the call of rare endemic birds echoing just beyond. In the central area, a bar and restaurant serve elegant cocktails, fine French-Malagasy cuisine and international fare. Enjoy a swim in the large outdoor pool, and kayak excursions nearby are possible, too, if time permits. After an exciting trek looking for Indri and other lemurs, guests may enjoy relaxing with a massage, available at an extra cost.