Amphibian Conservation in Madagascar, thoughts and perspectives

By Julie Hanta Razafimanahaka, Madagasikara Voakajy

While being part of the World Parks Congress in Sydney, Madagascar is also getting ready for the workshop to review its Conservation Strategy for its Amphibians. The first workshop (ACSAM 1) took place in 2006 and resulted in the Sahonagasy Action Plan. The second workshop will be happening on 19th – 22nd November 2014 in Ranomafàna, Madagascar. Julie is presenting her thoughts and perspectives.

What are the threats to the Amphibians in Madagascar?

Little attention is given to amphibians in Madagascar. ‘Why would you try to conserve a frog?’ This is a question I often get in the field and during meetings in the cities. Although this does not directly represent a threat to amphibians, it is increasing the threats. If this perception is changed, if people values the fact that (i) there are nearly 300 species described in Madagascar and nearly 100% are endemic to the country, (ii) these frogs have important ecological roles and can immensely contribute to pest controls and (iii) they can also generate sustainable income through encouraging ecotourism, international pet trade and even local consumption, most of the direct threats would be removed. These direct threats include habitat degradation due to human activities or climate change, intensive and unsustainable collection for pet trade and/or consumption, risks of diseases and most recently risks of competition with invasive species.

Mantella © Raphali Andriatsimanarilafy

Mantella © Raphali Andriatsimanarilafy

What should be done for the Amphibians of Madagascar?

There are many researchers interested in the Amphibians of Madagascar, and they are getting together to discuss areas of improvement during the ACSAM 2 conference. This is a great initiative that will inform all conservation and development actors in the country and internationally on actions to be taken. In my opinion, there are three main areas to work on:

  • Efforts to raise the profile of amphibians in the local, regional and national biodiversity conservation and development agendas should be increased, especially in the protected areas. This will result in habitat protection;
  • Measures to prevent risks of diseases and invasion by exotic species should be promoted and applied by all stakeholders, including at the borders;
  • Sustainable harvesting examples should be piloted and promoted, both for the local consumption and the international pet trade.

What did you already do for amphibian conservation?

I am writing this article!

With my team at Madagasikara Voakajy, we particularly focused our actions on the Critically Endangered Golden mantella and the Edible Mantidactylus frogs. With the government and the local communities, we are creating a new protected area – Mangabe-Ranomena-Sasarotra – which holds over 60% of the known breeding ponds of the golden mantella frog. Collection of Edible frogs is also an important source of income for some families living around this new protected area. At the moment, we cannot say that we have fully protected the habitats of the Golden mantella yet, as gold mining and illegal slash-and-burn agriculture are still happening in the area. However, we can say that if no action was taken, we could have already lost 50% of the known ponds.

Who can help to save the amphibians of Madagascar?

Each individual can contribute to saving the amphibians of Madagascar, and the amphibians of the World. One can:

  1. Learn more about the importance of Amphibians and share these with friends and families;
  2. Donate through the Amphibian Survival Alliance for Amphibian Conservation Projects over the world;
  3. Join Amphibian Conservation Initiatives and take actions on the ground.

Mascot photo © Mahefatiana Ralisata