|Central coordinates||48o 26.00' East 17o 34.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A3, A4i|
|Altitude||750 - 790m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Eighty species are known from the site, of which 13 are endemic to Madagascar. Lake Alaotra is an exceptional site for waterbirds. It formerly held two highly threatened endemic species, which were probably confined to the lake, but which may now be extinct: Tachybaptus rufolavatus and Aythya innotata. The former was last recorded in 1985 and the latter in 1991. Furthermore, the flocks of Anas melleri that occur on the lake constitute the largest congregations known for this species, and Ardea humbloti also occurs regularly (in its only eastern site), though it is not proven to have bred.
Site description This is the largest lake in Madagascar, situated 170 km north-east of Antananarivo and 7 km north of Ambatondrazaka. It lies in a tectonic basin 40 km long and 9.5 km wide, located between the Grand Angavo escarpment in the west and the Mangoro–Alaotra escarpment in the east. Its depth is 1.0–2.5 m during the low-water season and 4 m during the high-water season. The water is fresh, and turbid with suspended silt due to intense erosion of the deforested hills that surround the lake. The lake is fed by the Sasomanga and Sahabe rivers in the south, and by the Sahamaloto and Anony rivers in the north-west. The only drainage river, the Maningory, flows out of the north-eastern part of the lake. The lake-bottom sediments consist of thick layers of sand, black mud and grey clay. Natural, permanent marshes occur along the lake margin, especially in the southern part of the site. The largest are located to the south and east of the Antanamalaza peninsula and in the part drained by the Maningory. There are also wet grasslands. The lake vegetation was formerly dominated by water-lilies Nymphaea, but these have decreased in extent due to competition with non-native water-hyacinth Eichhornia and water-fern Salvinia. In the marshes, sedges Cyperus and reeds Phragmites dominate. Secondary savanna covers the surrounding hills.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Meller's Duck Anas melleri||resident||1993-1994||150 individuals||medium||A1, A2, A3, A4i||Endangered|
|Madagascar Pochard Aythya innotata||resident||1991||present [units unknown]||-||A1, A2, A3||Critically Endangered|
|Alaotra Grebe Tachybaptus rufolavatus||resident||1985||unknown [units unknown]||-||A1, A2, A3||Extinct|
|Madagascar Grebe Tachybaptus pelzelnii||resident||1993-1994||1 individuals||medium||A1||Vulnerable|
|Madagascar Pond-heron Ardeola idae||non-breeding||1993-1994||7 individuals||medium||A1||Endangered|
|Madagascar Heron Ardea humbloti||resident||1993-1994||8 individuals||medium||A1||Endangered|
|Madagascar Harrier Circus macrosceles||resident||1993-1994||4 individuals||medium||A1||Vulnerable|
|Madagascar Rail Rallus madagascariensis||resident||1993-1994||12 individuals||medium||A2, A3||Vulnerable|
|Madagascar Snipe Gallinago macrodactyla||resident||1993-1994||37 individuals||medium||A2, A3||Vulnerable|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Wetlands (inland)||Freshwater lakes and pools; Permanent herbaceous swamps and bogs; Rivers & streams||major|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Other biodiversity Lemur: Hapalemur griseus alaotrensis (CR). Carnivore: Salanoia concolor (VU).
Management considerations Human activities that pose a threat include the burning of marsh vegetation, poaching, intensive gill-netting, and conversion of marshes to rice-fields. The invasion of the lake by non-native vegetation, and the introduction of non-native fishes such as Tilapia and Ophiocephalus, have resulted in the loss of several native species of fish, waterbird and aquatic plant.
References Delacour (1930), Hawkins et al. (2000), Nicoll and Langrand (1989), Payne (1960), Pidgeon (1996), Rand (1936), Voous and Payne (1965), Wilmé (1993), World Wide Fund for Nature–Madagascar (1997), Young and Smith (1989).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Alaotra. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/06/2013
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