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Crystal-clear river becomes first in Madagascar to wins Ramsar protected status

The Nosivolo river and its watershed has become Madagascar’s first Ramsar site, reports Conservation International.

The designation will enable better protection of the river’s resources, including conservation of its 19 endemic fish species.

“This is a huge success for the local community and for global conservation. I hope it will create opportunities for conservation of other important rivers in Madagascar,” said Nick Davidson, the Deputy Secretary General for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, in a statement.

Conservation International (CI) says the Nosivolo, which “begins at 1800m above sea level and extends for 130km, over spectacular waterfalls and cascades down to 700m asl, where it joins the Mangoro River”, is the most “important river” in Madagascar in terms of biodiversity.

“Its crystal clear waters support 19 endemic fish species, four of which (the Katria Katria katria, Songatana Oxylapia pollia, an undescribed species of Bedotia called the Nosivolo Blue, and an undescribed species of Rheocles) are found only in the Nosivolo,” read a statement released by the group.

But the river faces pressure from unsustainable use. Conservation International says it is working with the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and local partners to establish a protected area that will “ensure the long term health of the river for the endemic fish, and for the human population living near the river.”

“Our central belief is that a healthy river ecosystem will benefit both local communities and wildlife,” said CI in a statement.

“We are extremely proud of this achievement as this is the culmination of years of work lead by the local communities that live along the river basin to improve the management of the natural resources they depend on,” said Leon Rajaobelina. Conservation International’s Regional Vice President in Madagascar. “It is proof that healthy freshwater ecosystems are absolutely vital for development and human well-being.”

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