Protecting wetlands, protecting our future

The World Wetland Day was celebrated on 2 January 2023. In Madagascar, the national event took place in the Torotorofotsy Ramsar site in Andasibe. It was also the day for the official opening of the annual reforestation campaign in the Alaotra-Mangoro region. Thus, there were participants even from other parts of the country, invited by Asity, the manager of the Ramsar site. Representatives of associations and organisations working in the environmental sector had come to Torotorofotsy to do their share. In addition to Mrs Marie-Orléa VINA, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, many officials of the Ministry and of all other sectors of administration from national to local level were present, the Governor of the Alaotra-Mangoro region and the Member of Parliament of the Moramanga district included. Naturally, local inhabitants arrived in great numbers to participate in the planting, too.


At the request of the Ministry, Mitsinjo helped in the arrangements of the day. Our contribution was essential. Our Tontolo maitso project provided the 4000 seedlings planted during the event.

Moreover, our environmental education team had prepared program with a group of children from the public primary school of Menalamba. They presented sketches and poems about environmental issues. They also gave a theatre performance on deforestation and climate change. As usual, there were competitions especially for children and youth.

IMG_20230202_122949The text in the T-shirts declares: “For every child, a healthy environment”.

After the event in Torotorofotsy was over, there was a luncheon at Mitsinjo’s premises in Ankaizinina, Andasibe. 150 guests (representatives of organisations and administration) enjoyed the meal offered by the Ministry.

Photos: Iréne Toutoune RAMANANTENASOA, responsible for environmental education/Mitsinjo


It’s donation time

The World Lemur Day and the World Lemur Festival 2022 were celebrated during the past month of October in Madagascar and in many other countries. Various events to highlight the importance of protecting lemurs will also be organised in the weeks to come.

In support of the work done by their Malagasy partners, Conservation Allies are matching donations up to $10.000 each for Association Mitsinjo and 12 other member organisations of the Lemur Conservation Network through the end of the year.

In addition to 10 other lemur species, indris, diademed sifakas, black-and-white ruffed lemurs, greater bamboo lemurs – all four of them critically endangered species- are still living in and around Andasibe. It is thanks to the research done by our team that the greater bamboo lemur was rediscovered in 2007 in Torotorofotsy where it was thought extinct before.

Association Mitsinjo has always aimed at restoring and preserving the forests where it works, not only by patrolling but also by doing environmental education and implementing sustainable development projects. We are now continuing the monitoring of the greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus) and the black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata) in Torotorofotsy and in Ihofa, a wide forest north-east of the Ramsar site. The objective is that after four years of regular survey the number of all groups and individuals of the two species will be known. Monitoring will be done to keep track of the annual growth of the number of individuals and their behaviour will be observed. The habitat of the animals will also be monitored to see its quality and development.

Greater Bamboo Lemur

Greater bamboo lemur

Donate here

Conservation Allies charges no overhead fees or administration costs
All donations made from the United states are fully tax-deductible

Thank you for the support!

Golden mantella habitats identified and restored in Torotorofotsy

Mitsinjo had a pleasant surprise early this year. Our partner FANC (Finnish Association for Nature Conservation) had received two donations – one from the Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki, Finland and the other from an American lady – to be used for the conservation of environment in Madagascar. FANC asked us to present good ideas for protecting the golden mantella (Mantella aurantiaca). We did not waste time, but began to elaborate a proposal for a small project to conserve and restore the natural habitat of this endangered amphibian species in Torotorofotsy. FANC’s coordinators were very pleased with our idea and as soon as Asity, the manager of the Torotorofotsy Ramsar site, had shown us green light, we started to make preparations for launching the project. It also meant good news to our members. Half of them are guides and many have been without regular income since March 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic arrived closing the borders. We were now able to help them a little by offering them work during some months.

At the end of February, we were ready to go ahead with the activities. Before the teams were sent to the field, Youssouf, our conservation manager gave a short training and explained what was to be done. He also accompanied the teams in Torotorofotsy during the initial phases. The first step was to collect information for identifying the habitats of Mantella aurantiaca. Six teams went to villages around Torotorofotsy to interview local people. They mentioned 11 different sites where the golden mantella had been seen and was living before.

Mant_interviewAn interview in Berano (photo by Youssouf)

At the beginning of March, another team continued by verifying the correctness of the received data. The team was divided in groups. The first group checked, if there were any signs of golden mantellas on the sites. In case croaks were heard or frogs were seen, the second group was sent to the site to make a more profound survey.


Observation of frog behaviour in Antsampanandratsy.
See a big vakona behind the team (photo by Youssouf)

The group went to Torotorofotsy early in the morning and spent a few hours observing the behaviour of the frogs. Attention was also paid to their general condition, how they were breathing and how vigorous and long their jumps were. Verification and observation done, it could be confirmed that two sites were current habitats. In Antandrokivanga, the team heard vocalizations made by mantellas, but no frogs were sighted. On the other hand, in Antsampanandratsy, seven indivuals – males, females and juveniles – were met.

The team also saw signs of illegal gold mining. Six pits left by diggers were found in Antsampanandratsy. In one pit, a golden mantella and a woolly lemur were lying dead. After the identification, the GPS coordinates of the two sites and the location of the pits were taken for the next phase of the project.

One of the deepest pits

In April, two teams returned to Torotorofotsy to start the restoration of the site in Antsampanandratsy. The first thing to do was to fill the pits to prevent them from posing further a risk to animals. Some excavations contained a lot of water and in one of them, the team noticed a tree frog of Boophis species that was alive. Fortunately, they managed to lift it out of the pit.


20210408_100430The holes were filled with the sand that had been dug out by the miners

At the beginning of May, the restoration was completed. The filled pits were covered with vegetation. Youssouf joined the team and showed plants that were good for enriching the variety. Aquatic plants such as various ferns as well as two seedlings of 20210507_111153Pandanus species (Vakona fandrana) were planted on every covered hole. 20210508_100435The pandans had been brought from Mitsinjo’s tree nursery in Menalamba, but the other plants were collected in Antsampanandratsy near the pits. Many tree frogs consider vakonas good places for reproduction. There is an empty space between the leaves of the trees where water collects. Frogs like to lay their eggs in this pool, as it also offers shelter for the development of larvae and tadpoles. A few plants of Dracaena species (dragon trees) were also added on some pits. At each hole, the team wrote down in a notebook the names and the number of the planted species

20210507_111610A newly planted vakona and a Malagasy climbing rain frog (Plethodontohyla mihanika),
a terrestrial species that appeared on the spot while the team was working there.

20210507_121900The planting team with Youssouf (on the right)

The last phase of the project was to delimit the two sites. The exact GPS coordinates were defined for drawing a map showing their locations. In Antsampanandratsy, the team met a female golden mantella. It had a beautiful colour and it was in good shape. In Antandrokivanga, calls of mantella were heard, but even this time, the frogs remained hidden from view.

M_aurantiacaA female golden mantella in Antsampanandratsy (photo by Youssouf)

The project has ended, but we would like to continue and increase the number of protected habitats. We already have a new activity plan that we would carry out in close cooperation with Asity and local communities, if there were funds for this purpose. The project would also include regular monitoring and patrolling of the habitats to diminish the pressure and threats on them and on the golden mantella in order to secure its survival.

Photos: Youssouf, Ulla Aitakangas


A New Women’s Group in Torotorofotsy

One of the main challenges linking tourism to sustainable development in the Andasibe community is finding ways to ensure more than just your local guide benefit from a visit.

That’s why this past month we have been working with Project Manondroala and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation to launch the new Association Vehivavy Menalamba-Torotorofotsy, a women’s group dedicated to making local artisinal handicrafts for the Andasibe tourist market.03The group of 25 women have been working with us and the Finns to learn ways to make original handicrafts that are of a high-quality for visiting tourists. Although there are a number of small markets that sell souvenirs in the area, currently almost all are made elsewhere in Madagascar and brought to Andasibe for resale.04With this new organization the group works collectively, with all profits going back to the cooperative and directly to individual artisans. The official launch of the association and the inauguration of the women’s showroom took place on November 10th 2015. No visit to Torotorofotsy should be had without passing by to have a look!01