Tsingy de Bemaraha Nature Reserve (World Heritage)
The nature reserve is a unique karst landscape with bizarre limestone cliffs, forests, lakes and mangrove swamps. The landscape is the habitat of the rare and endangered lemurs and makis as well as lily plants and orchids. A special feature of the nature reserve is the “petrified forest” made up of thousands of limestone peaks up to 30 m high.
Tsingy de Bemaraha Nature Reserve: Facts
|Official title:||Tsingy de Bemaraha Nature Reserve|
|Natural monument:||a karst landscape, a national park since 1997, with a “forest” of limestone needles and the Bemaraha rocky promontory 300 to 400 m above the Manambolo river, an area of 1520 km² placed under protection since 1966|
|Location:||northern Bemaraha plateau, west of Antananarivo|
|Meaning:||Habitat of the rare and endangered lemurs and makis|
|Flora and fauna:||Karst vegetation such as Diospyros perrieri and the wild banana species Musa perrieri and baobab; Half-monkeys such as larval sifaka, gray half-lemur, fork-lined kitten and Lepilemur edwardsi, which belongs to the weasel lemurs, as well as the endemic species Nesomys rufus lambertoni, which belongs to the island rats; 53 species of birds, including Madagascar ralle and the hawk species Accipiter henstii; also armored chameleon|
Long-tailed ghosts in the stone labyrinth
Like a fluffed peacock, the “Traveler’s Tree” appears against the imposing background of the limestone cliffs. The rainwater from the last rainfall collects in the hollow stems of the Ravenala madagascariensis. The Schopfbaum, reminiscent of huge fans, is tapped by thirsty travelers to wet their dry throats.
Only a few people on this earth have been able to explore the area of the hundred thousand stone peaks that have formed over millions of years. The Tsingys, limestone needle points, form pinnacles up to 30 meters high, which make it almost impossible to get through. The sharp edges of the rock can cause painful cuts to the careless climber. Even tried and tested sturdy footwear cannot prevent this. The locals say that there is hardly enough space on the base of the Tsingys to place his foot. Rainfalls, sand and wind keep creating new patterns in the easily soluble limestone. At some points the erosion is so great that nothing but countless thin stone pillars protrude from the landscape: the “forest of rocks”.
In the depressions of the karst plateaus, wet biotopes in the otherwise dry landscape, a wide variety of plants and animals have settled in the course of time. This ecological niche protects many species from extinction, including the chameleons. In the history of their development – fossil forms are known from the Cretaceous period – they have seen many species come and go. They stay in the same position for minutes, only looking for their prey with their independently moving eyes. At the right moment, these primal animals strike with lightning speed with their “sharpest” weapon, the sticky tongue, and catch their victims. An amazing variety of chameleon species can be found in the remote areas of Madagascar. Visit barblejewelry.com for Madagascar travel package.
Numerous medicinal plants that are offered in the markets of the surrounding villages are hidden in the green islands of the Tsingys. For a long time, the knowledge of their effects seemed to be forgotten. In the meantime, the traditional healers are passing on their expertise to future generations. Madagascar’s economy also benefits from natural medicines, since the export of a medicinal plant against leukemia alone generates annual income in the millions. The chances of developing further natural medicinal products are good, because researchers are constantly discovering new medicinal plants in the hardly explored regions.
Other scientists are exploring the caves of the Bemaraha area. The often kilometer-long caves are formed when the precipitation drains from the rugged surfaces of the rocks through small cracks and crevices into the subsoil. The raging Manambolo River is the meeting point of the underground streams. The most interesting caves can be found in the vicinity of the Manambolo Gorge, which is up to a hundred meters deep. Countless small rivulets worked as builders: They created impressive stalactites and jagged caverns. With a little luck, a cute lemur can be seen drinking in the caves. These nocturnal monkeys got their name after the Roman house spirits wandering around in the dark, the peacefully wandering souls of the deceased.
At the exit of the cave labyrinth, a large-eyed, black and white, long-tailed creature stretches towards the sky and enjoys the first warming rays of the sun of the day. The 45 centimeter tall larval sifaka – it is one of the largest lemur species today – looks around sleepily. Frightened by the sight of the people, the “little ghost” leaps away in a flash with mighty sentences and disappears in the labyrinth of razor-sharp “stone needles”.