Two new Ramsar sites in Comoros
The Secretariat is delighted to be able to announce that the Direction nationale de l'Environnement et des Forêts (DNEF) of the government of Comoros has designated two volcanic mountain wetlands on the largest and second-largest islands. As described by Ramsar's Lucia Scodanibbio, based on the Ramsar Information Sheets, Le Karthala (13,000 hectares, 11°46'S 043°21'E), located in the southern part of Grande Comore (Ngazidja), is a well-known active volcano with its 3km-wide caldera. Its western and southern slopes are covered by a dense, humid forest which harbours several endemic species and contributes to global biodiversity conservation. On the other slopes, different vegetation types occur according to exposure and altitude: evergreen moist forest, dry forest, montane bushland and thicket (characterized by Philippia heaths), and highland grasslands. The site harbours the entire bird community of the island, with five endemic endangered species including the Comoro White-eye Zosterops mouroniensis, the Comoro Scops-Owl Otus pauliani, the Grand Comoro Flycatcher Humblotia flavirostris, the Comoro Drongo Dicrurus fuscipennis and the Mayotte Drongo Dicrurus waldenii. Two threatened butterfly species are also present. Certain species are used for medicinal purposes and some areas are considered sacred sites. The forests also play an essential role in preventing erosion; with increased land conversion for agricultural purposes, the risk of land degradation and sedimentation in the coastal areas greatly increases. Introduced species and deforestation for firewood and construction materials also threaten the site. There are plans to create a national park, which can further increase the tourism potential of the area.
Le Mont Ntringui (3,000 hectares, 12°11'S 044°25'E), located on Anjouan, Comoros' second biggest island, comprises Mt. Ntringui, the island's highest point, and the crater lake Dzialandzé, which is the largest freshwater body on the island. The site provides a habitat for the endemic, critically endangered Livingstone's Flying Fox, one of the world's largest fruit bats; the Mongoose Lemur Eulemur mongoz, also vulnerable; and endemic bird and plant species, which depend on each other for their reproduction, dispersal and survival. Permanent rivers along the slopes of Mt. Ntringui are providential for water supply, irrigation and as a source of water for livestock. The site is also important in its provision of building materials, medicines, fuel wood, honey, for spiritual reasons and as a tourist attraction. It is however threatened by population growth, unsustainable resource use, encroachment, erosion and introduced species. The risk of the degradation and disappearance of the island's freshwater supply is worrying. Although there is no management plan at the site, the NGO Action Comores Anjouan is carrying out some conservation activities with the local communities and a conservation plan for Pteropus livingstonii has been elaborated. There are also plans to transform the site into a national park.
Comoros now has three Wetlands of International Importance, covering a surface area of 16,030 hectares.
Le Karthala and Ile de Ngazidja (Grande Comore)
Le Mont Ntringui and the Ile de Ndzuani (Anjouan)