The Anja community reserve
The Anja community reserve is located in the southern part of Madagascar and was declared by the government of Madagascar protected in 1999. It is strategically located but not easy to get to due to the bad roads that are found in the country but even after the hectic ride, one can still enjoy the beauty that the reserve offers. It is surrounded by a water body that provides water to the different animals that live in the reserve.
The reserve was set up so that it would protect the ring tailed lemurs that were being hunted by the locals. The meat was being sold to foreigners and this led to the reduction in the number of lemurs in the area. When the locals saw that they had reduced on the number of the lemurs, they decided to set up a rule that would forbid anyone from eating lemur meat and this is how the reserve idea came up. And ever since it was set up, there has been an increase in the number of ring tailed lemurs in the country.
The Anja community reserve is one of the top most visited ecological site in the whole of Madagascar. It is situated in the middle of Granite Mountains and is filled with a rocky landscape and that is why to some people it is referred to as the Rock Park. The Park is mostly visited by tourists because the lemurs that are found in the reserve are easily spotted due to their large number and easy access.
A cultural visit the tombs in the area
The Anja community reserve is a known place for preservation of tombs and other ancient regalia and this has been going on for more than 200 years. The local people who live in the area have always buried their dead on the rocks that are found in the area and these surprising are still used up to this day although many of them cannot easily be accessed.
The forest before its conservation was where many people always hid especially during the wars that were between the two local tribes in the area known as the Merina and the Batsileo. Over 250 people would hide in the reserve and feed on the plants and water that was found in the reserve. Even before the French came into the country there was evidence of people living in the forest and the remains that were found on the rocks. When you visit the reserve, you will be able to get to know more about the tombs and the history surrounding them and the people who used to live there. When it comes to burying the dead, the deceased is tied to a ladder which is made by the locals and pulled upwards to the tombs for the final burial.
The three granite mountains that are found in the area also have a cultural story to them. They are commonly referred to as the three sisters and they have numerous caves that are attached to them. When you visit the caves, the guide will tell you all the sacred stories that are attached to the caves and it is why the area is considered sacred by many.
The wildlife located in the community reserve
The Anja community reserve is known for the wide number of wildlife that is located in the area. Some of the species that are found in the reserve include snakes especially the Tree Boa which is only dangerous when provoked, the Ampaha, the ring tailed lemurs, lizards and these come in three species which include the Dangalia, the Girdled lizard and the Katasataka lizard all which can be seen in the different parts of the reserve especially on rocks or trees, the Sora which is seen only at night and many more others.
Since most of the wild life that is found in the reserve is endemic, you get to experience something that cannot be explained but can only be got here. And therefore the best thing to do is pack a bag and take that long journey to the Anja reserve and get to see the wonderful things that it has to offer.
Birding in the reserve
Birding in the Anja reserve is not as common as wild life viewing but can be done in the few selected areas that were gazette for birding. The reserve has eleven bird species that habitate in the different trees in the reserve and these are all endemic to the country. When you go for birding in the reserve, the only easy way to view these birds is by getting a strategic location that will be shown to you by the guide and you will get to view all the bird species in the reserve. They might seem quite few in number but their unique characters cannot be seen anywhere else and that is why you should not miss an opportunity of viewing these colorful birds while at the reserve.
The plant species in the area
Whether you are a botany fanatic or not, the wide range of plant species that are found in the reserve will call to you. Most of the plant species that are found in the Park are used for medicine by the locals and that is why they are reserved and the different types of plant species include the Orchids, desert spiny trees and the saxicol. The ecological nature of the reserve is one of the biggest reasons as to why many tourists go to the reserve so that they can see and learn more about the plants. But as the tour guide takes you through the different plants and their use, some information is retained in order to protect the Malagasy medicinal culture.
Hiking in the Anja community reserve
Hiking is one of the most participated in activities by the various tourists in the Anja reserve and it can be done using two major hike routes that is the large loop and the small loop. All treks within the reserve are done in the presence of a tour guide who will explain everything that you will see while on your trek and to avoid accidents. The routes that are normally used for trekking are always referred to as circuits by the local people and the tour guide and the said circuits always have a specific number of people. The two routes that are used for trekking include the following:
- The small loop
The trek on the small loop will take you roughly two hours to complete and it is not as strenuous as the big loop. You will find other tourists on this route and it can also been taken with your whole family. On this route you will see various wildlife like the lemurs, a few snakes and bouts of vegetation which will be explained by the guide. The best time to use this route is from April to November but note that it will be extremely crowded.
- The large loop
The large loop is a route that goes through the mountainous side of the reserve and it is quite strenuous to take. To complete this trail you will need six full hours with a few rests along the way. The hike is good for all those who do not love crowds and are adrenaline addicts as few people take this hike due to the many hours spent trekking along it. When you get to the finishing point of the trek you will get to see the whole reserve from a different point of view.
Requirements needed in the Anja reserve.
There a few requirements that will be needed from you when it comes to gaining access to the reserve and these include the following:
- Guide fees
Payment of the guide fees is recommended and a must because you will not be allowed to explore the reserve on your own unless when a tour guide is available. The guide fee depends on the number of people in the group and they are split into two that is the guide in training fees and the primary guide fees. Be sure to plan for this and a tip for them if you have but this is not a must.
- The entrance fees
The entrance fees for everyone who enters the reserve are a must since it is this money that is used to maintain the whole reserve. The reserve has a lot of endemic flora and fauna that needs to be conserved and since the reserve does not receive any funding form the government or any other organization, it uses the entrance fees to do the conservation.
- The camping fees
There are no nearby accommodation facilities so most people resort to camping within the reserve. But when you decide to camp in the reserve, you will need to pay a small fee to accommodate you and the price also depends on how many people that are going to camp.