The Critically Endangered Golden Mantella is undergoing severe declines in Madagascar. A major initiative was launched in 2008 to protect the remaining forest fragments for this species. Golden Mantellas need both healthy rainforests and clean freshwater ponds and these habitats are threatened throughout its range by logging, mining and slash and burn agriculture. Mangabe forest has more Golden Mantella ponds than any other site and is pivotal to the survival of this species. Most of the mantella ponds in the Mangabe forest are now included within the boundary of a provisional protected area but this has, unfortunately, provided little protection from the illegal artisanal gold mining; two of the 16 ponds were destroyed in 2010 - and community groups were powerless to intervene because the gold miners were aggressive and violent.
This SOS - Save Our Species project, implemented by Madagasikara Voakajy, will support both the community organizations that manage the Mangabe forest and the Malagasy authorities to monitor, and conserve, the key breeding ponds of the Golden Mantella. The project incorporates both traditional and innovative approaches to conservation in Madagascar.
The breeding ponds that were destroyed by gold mining in 2010 will be the subject of a high-profile restoration effort led by local communities. This will have multiple benefits - it will reinforce the message that the areas are of high value to both frogs and people - it will prevent farmers from becoming established in the abandoned mines - and may even recreate suitable habitat for the golden frogs in the future.
Madagasikara Voakajy will work towards incorporating Golden Mantella ponds within the conservation zones of the new protected area. This is a consultative process and the final decision is made by local communities. The ponds, and surrounding habitats, will be regularly visited by trained pond monitors and feedback provided to Madagasikara Voakajy and the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The project will support patrols and interventions by the rural police force in response to reports received from the pond monitors.
At the end of the project, we hope to have prevented any further loss of the 27 known breeding ponds, whilst restoring, or possibly even creating, five other ponds for the golden frogs. Twelve forested areas with the ponds will be focal sites for conservation and monitoring and highly valued by all stakeholders.