Taboos and Social Contracts: Tools for Ecosystem Management – Lessons From the Manambolomaty Lakes RAMSAR Site, Western Madagascar


"Traditional taboos and social contracts played an important role in managing the Manambolomaty RAMSAR site. Taboos are defined as a prohibition imposed by social custom as an protective measure’ and social contracts are – in conservation sense – a common agreement for achieving conservation, sustainable development and development of resources objectives. The Manambolomaty Lakes RAMSAR site, District of Antsalova in western Madagascar, is composed of four lakes(Soamalipo, Befotaka, Ankerika and Antsamaka) surrounded by the Tsimembo deciduous forest. The first three lakes with forest surrounding encompass 14,701 ha and are being man- aged by two local Associations: FIZAMI (FIkambanana Zanatany Andranobe MIray) and FIFAMA (FIkambanana FAmpandrosoana Mamokatra Ankerika). The associations have used traditional taboos and social conventions to manage their local natural resources by incorporating a GELOSE (GEstion Locale SEcurisée) management system to conserve biological diversity, maintain resource sustainability and socio - economic viability. This site has the highest concentration of the endemic and critically endangered Madagascar fish eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides), representing 10 % of the global population, and many other species of different faunal groups are also in good conservation status such as Decken’s sifaka (Propithecus deckeni) and Western lesser bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur occidentalis) and Madagascar flying fox (Pteropus rufus). Culturally, the site is known as a unique source of the endemic tree Hazomalania voyroni (Hernandiaceae), which is used by the Sakalava peo- ple for constructing coffins, and being buried in a coffin made of this wood is a great honour for the Sakalava people. From Manambolomaty’s Lakes fish yields, estimated at 60 - 100 tons per fishing season, FIZAMI and FIFAMA are one of the few Malagasy Associations with active bank accounts supported by management of their natural resources and associated activities. Their fisheries management system has increased the annual local revenue estimated at more than $1,562 US/fisherman per season. The tax of fish sales to wholesale fish buyers forms 56% of the two local Commune’s budgets. This has made the Community - Based Wetlands Conservation at the Manambolomaty Lakes site well known in the conservation circles within Madagascar and has been modelled by other organizations and associations. Consequently, the Manambolomaty Lakes site is in the process of being added into the System of Protected Areas of Madagascar."



wetlands, conservation, CBRM