Anjajavy Forest is an element of the Madagascar dry deciduous forests situated on the Indian Ocean of northwest Madagascar. The Anjajavy Forest surrounds the village of Anjajavy and provides a habitat for many rare and endangered species. It covers roughly fifty square kilometres, and occupies a continuous portion of the peninsula upon which Anjajavy village lies. The peninsula is bounded by Majajamba Bay to the south and Narinda Bay to the north. Anjajavy Forest has much in common with other dry deciduous forests rising out of the tsingy limestone formations of western Madagascar. It is due to the presence of expansive tsingy outcrops as well as the remoteness of this part of Madagascar from the population center of the country at Antananarivo that the forest here has been less disturbed than many other forests in the country. For example, the central highland plateau, readily accessible from the population center, has been decimated by decades of slash-and-burn farming by indigenous peoples, leading to massive desertification and erosion. The incidence of species endemism in the western dry forests is very high, including ten of the fourteen known lemur genera, five of the eight tenrec genera and 16 of the 17 Chiroptera genera of Madagascar represented. There are a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles and arthropods present within the Anjajavy Forest.
Like most of Madagascar's dry deciduous forests, the upper canopy is composed of trees which shed their leaves in the winter months (May through September), including at least two species of baobabs endemic to the western part of the island. Trees here have adapted to the warm arid climate by shedding leaves in the dry season to reduce evapotranspiration, and some species such as the baobab store large amounts of water in their bulbous trunks.
There is a very high rate of species endemicity in all the western dry deciduous forests of Madagascar, for both flora and fauna; this rate is thought to be higher than for the eastern rainforests, although the biodiversity, while extremely high, is slightly less than the eastern counterparts. Geologically the tsingy formations have numerous subterranean caverns (used by early tribesmen) and karst formations, which provide underground water storage.
The forest canopy contains numerous species of deciduous trees, including at least two species of baobab, Adansonia rubrostipa and Adansonia madagascariensis. In addition, trees such as Grewia ciclea (Malagasy name, andilambarika) and Terminalia catappa (Malagasy name: antafana) occur. The latter tree provides a favourite food supply to the Coquerel's lemur, with both fruits and leaves being appealing.
Some of the common shrubs found in the Anjajavy forest are Vepris ampody (Malagasy name: ampoly) and Rhizorphora mucronata (Malagasy name: honkovavy). There are also abundant lianas (vines) as well as numerous herbs, including the Madagascar vanilla (Vanilla madagascariensis, whose Malagasy name is vahimatso).
Lemurs are a noted species in the Anjajavy Forest, since they are abundant in the trees and even sometimes on the forest floor . The most frequently seen diurnal species are Coquerel's sifaka and the common brown lemur both of which are completely wild but show no fear of humans and can be approached very closely in the Anjajavy le Lodge gardens. Other, nocturnal lemurs of the Anjajavy Forest include three species of mouse lemur (Microcebus spp.), one species of sportive lemur (Lepilemur sp.) and the fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius). Since none of these nocturnal lemur populations have been researched by specialists, it is possible that some may represent new, undescribed species.
Lemurs of the Anjajavy Forest are:
- Milne Edward sportive lemur (Lepilemur edwardsi)
- Coquerel's sifaka (Propithecus coquereli)
- Fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius)
- Golden brown mouse lemur (Microcebus ravelobensis)
- Danfoss mouse lemur (Microcebus danfossi)
- Gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus)
- Common brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus)
The tsingy caves provide special habitat for the bats of this region, offering cool shelter. Probably the most common member of the chiroptera family locally is the Commerson's leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros commersoni). The cave explorers will also sight Tiavato bats (Paremballonura tiavato) in flight and some hanging from the ceiling on stalactite formations of the limestone cave interiors. A cruise on the mangrove before sunset often shows skies with many Madagascar flying foxes (Pteropus rufus).
Also seen in the Anjajavy Forest area is the endangered Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), the largest mammalian carnivore in Madagascar. Other nocturnal mammals occur in the forest here, like two species of tenrecs: greater hedgehog (Setifer setosus) and (Tenrec ecaudatusalso) and the elusive Malagasy civet (Fossa fossana).
There is abundandant birdlife present in the Anjajavy Forest. One of the most emblematic is the Madagascar fish eagle, which has four breeding pairs in the Anjajavy Forest according to Garbutt and Hogan. This very large bird of prey is endemic to western Madagascar, and the species is critically endangered, with an estimated 99 breeding pairs estimated in total existence.
According to Anjajavy le Lodge continuous nature inventory bird species frequenting the Anjajavy Forest are:
After the dry season from May to October it is easy to see an assortment of chameleons, lizards and snakes in the Anjajavy Forest.
Among the snakes (that are not dangerous) are :
- Madagascar ground boa (Acrantophis madagascariensis) that can swallow a lemur in half an hour
- Madagascar hog-nosed snake (Leioheterodon madagascariensis)=
- Madagascar tree boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis)
- Cat eye snake (Madagascarophis colubrinus)
- Red eye snake (Stenophis variabilis)
- White hognose snake (Leioheterodon modestus)
- Leaf nose snake (Langaha madagascariensis)
- Zebra snake (Langaha alluaudi)
- Sword tailed snake (Ithycyphus perineti)
- (Liophidium torquatum)
- Whip snake (Dromicodryas bernieri)
- (Dromicodryas quadrilineatus)
- Pencil snake (Mimophis mahfalensis)
- (Heteroliodon accipitalis)
- (Heteroliodon fohy)
Chameleon species present include:
- Nick Garbutt, C. Michael Hogan, Hilton Hastings, Wendy Pollecutt, Tahiana Andriaharimalala, Anjajavy, the village and the forest, Lumina Technologies, May 12, 2006
- Russell Mittermeier et al., Lemurs of Madagascar, Conservation International (2006) ISBN 1-881173-88-7
- Anjajavy le Lodge
- Anjajavy le Lodge continuous nature inventory. Anjajavy reserve Check List on www.inaturalist.org t