Anjajavy deserves a special mention. If you go to Madagascar and are able to visit Anjajavy, don’t miss it. It was the last destination of my stay and while most reviews will tell you how relaxing it is and a great way to end a holiday to the island (which is definitely is!), more importantly it is a ray of hope for the country.
If you’ve ever seen any documentary about Madagascar you’ll likely know about how deforestation has decimated the landscape and in turn its wildlife. Who can blame the local people when they’re living in one of the poorest countries in the world. Most live without running water or electricity. Their main focus is survival; how to provide for themselves and their family. The wildlife and the landscape of the country is victim to devastating slash and burn agriculture by people who are just trying to scratch out a living.
The staff at Anjajavy are dedicated to preserving the biodiversity of the area, and were delighted in having recently just tripled the size of their hotel’s nature reserve. Part of the new reserve is to be run and managed by the local people, including grazing their zebu (cattle) there. The people are therefore happy as their traditions are being respected, and they preserve sources of crab to fish due a large area of protected mangrove forest. The hotel is working with the local villages surrounding the area, helping them providing medicine and education, which appears to have built up an invaluable trust between the cultures.
Anjajavy’s new reserve includes a large and very important area of mangroves vital for their ability to store carbon dioxide. Not only that, it is a perfect solution for filtering the silt in the rivers, for making a barrier against cyclone damage, creating firebreaks, providing a shelter for animals and as a nursery for multiple species of tiny fish. Over the last 3 years they have planted more than 250,000 trees, including the planting of baobab trees to rival the famous Baobab Alley in Morondava in 800 years’ time. The Madagascan Periwinkle can also be found at Anjajavy, an endemic plant to Madagascar. It has become famous recently for its successful treatment of leukemia.
The stars of Anjajavy are the Coquerel’s Sifakas. Sifakas are distinguished from other lemurs by the way they move. Predominantly arboreal, when they have to cross the ground they maintain a distinctly vertical posture and leap over ground quite like a kangaroo. Naturally, I spent most of my time in Anjajavy in the company of these lemurs as, quite frankly, who wouldn’t!
Again, Anjajavy is a great place for night walks to view nocturnal wildlife. Each night I’d spend some time wandering along the beach as it was so peaceful without anyone around, with just the sound of waves gently lapping against the beach to stir the senses. Light pollution is practically non-existent just about every where in Madagascar, apart from Tana, so on clear nights the sky is illuminated by the moon and stars. I also went walking through the deciduous forest at night looking for wildlife. Each night I’d follow the paths from the hotel into the forest. Usually I’d come across a Madagascar Nightjar which was protecting its chick from predators. Its choice of nesting site right by the path didn’t seem like a wise decision. The best way to look for any nocturnal lemur was to scan the trees with a torch and look out for eye-shine. Mouse lemurs turned out to be everywhere and you would see these two little red eyes, almost demonic, of the lemur looking back at you in the beam of your torch light.
While spotting mouse lemurs with a torch was relatively straight forward, getting close enough to one to photograph was a whole different ball game. Fortunately we came across a fruiting tree right next to the path and the fruits seemed to be favoured by these lemurs. Most would ‘ping’ from branch to branch and tree to tree with lightning speed and were impossible to photograph. Grey Mouse Lemurs and Golden Brown Mouse Lemurs were the two species we saw at this tree. Only one, a Golden Brown Mouse Lemur with a little ‘nick’ in its ear, casually moved around and was apparently unconcerned with me being there, nor with the flash firing. It even ate some of the fruits right in front of us.
Anjajavy is also an area where the Fat Tailed Dwarf Lemur can be found. Dwarf lemurs are the only primates known to hibernate. This extraordinary characteristic has made them the subject of study by Duke University. The research is looking at how these lemurs can slow down their vital organs in the hope it can be beneficial in space travel as well as, for example, in emergency wards.
I have far too many photos of Anjajavy and it’s wildlife to put up in this single blog post! If you’ve enjoyed reading this and looking at the photos please go to my Anjajavy gallery for more here. Madagascar’s range of beautiful different landscapes, welcoming and extraordinarily happy people, and simply stunning variety of different species of wildlife is sure to enthrall you.