Marsh belt of Lake Alaotra, photo by Nadiah Manjato, Madagascar Conservation & Development

Useful plants in the Park Bandro and its surroundings, Lake Alaotra, Madagascar

Nivo H. Rakotoarivelo, Nadiah V. Manjato, Lala R. Andriamiarisoa, Roger Bernard, Sylvie Andriambololonera

Abstract


Traditional use of plants constitutes an important activity in Malagasy life, especially in the countryside. The Sihanaka group is found in the east of Lake Alaotra and is the dominant cultural group in the lake region, including in the Fokontany of Andreba Gara, near Park Bandro, in the east of Lake Alaotra, in Ambatondrazaka district where the study was conducted. The Sihanaka holds traditional knowledge on plant uses and makes use of this knowledge in their daily lives. The objective of this study was to describe the use of aquatic plants in the region to better understand the importance of the Alaotra wetlands in the lives of local people. Surveys conducted among the people of Andreba, including one traditional chief (the Tangalamena) and one healer, revealed 55 useful species of aquatic plants, grouped into 41 genera and 23 families. Most species were used for their medicinal and veterinary virtues (32 species), for animal food (17 species), as utensils and tools (16 species), for cultural uses (10 species), and for human food (9 species). Leaves (76%) were the most exploited plant parts. The species with the most uses were Cyperus papyrus subsp. madagascariensis (Willd.) Kük. with 26 types of use recorded, then Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. (19 types of use), Aeschynomene elaphroxylon (Guill. & Perr.) Taub. and Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms (12 types of use each). Nymphaea nouchali, Cyperus papyrus subsp. madagascariensis and Phragmites australis were the species most frequently cited by informants, indicating that they are important for the local population. The most frequently cited types of use included joro, namely ancestor’s invocation, food, materials for house walls construction, herbal teas to treat ailments, and fencing or demarcation of land boundaries. This study highlighted the importance of the Alaotra wetlands as a source of useful plants for the local population. Sustainable management of Lake Alaotra is therefore not just necessary for biodiversity conservation, but also for maintaining local livelihoods.

 

Résumé

L’utilisation traditionnelle des plantes constitue une activité importante dans la vie des Malgaches, plus particulièrement dans les campagnes. Le groupe Sihanaka est rencontré à l’Est du lac Alaotra et constitue le groupe culturel dominant dans la région du lac, y compris dans le Fokontany d’Andreba Gara, près du Parc Bandro, à l’Est du Lac Alaotra, dans le district d’Ambatondrazaka où l’étude a été menée. Les Sihanaka détiennent des connaissances traditionnelles sur l’utilisation des plantes et utilisent ces connaissances dans leur vie quotidienne. L’objectif de cette étude était de décrire l’utilisation des plantes aquatiques dans la région afin de mieux comprendre l’importance des zones humides de l’Alaotra dans la vie des populations locales. Des enquêtes menées auprès de la population d’Andreba, y compris auprès d’un chef traditionnel (le Tangalamena) et d’un guérisseur, ont révélé 55 espèces utiles de plantes aquatiques, regroupées dans 41 genres et 23 familles. La plupart des espèces étaient utilisées pour leurs vertus médicinales et vétérinaires (32 espèces), puis pour l’alimentation des animaux (17 espèces), en tant qu’ustensiles et outils (16 espèces), pour des usages culturels (10 espèces) et pour l’alimentation humaine (9 espèces). Les feuilles (76%) étaient les parties de plante les plus exploitées. Les espèces ayant le plus d’utilisations étaient Cyperus papyrus subsp. madagascariensis (Willd.) Kük. avec 26 types d’utilisation recensés, puis Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. (19 types d’utilisation), Aeschynomene elaphroxylon (Guill. & Perr.) Taub. et Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms (12 types d’utilisation chacune). Nymphaea nouchali, Cyperus papyrus subsp. madagascariensis et Phragmites australis étaient les espèces les plus fréquemment citées par les informateurs, ce qui indique qu’elles sont importantes pour la population locale. Les types d’utilisation les plus fréquemment cités comprenaient le joro à savoir l’invocation des ancêtres, l’alimentation, les matériaux pour la construction des murs, les tisanes pour traiter les maladies et la construction de clôtures ou démarcation des limites de terre. Cette étude a souligné l’importance des zones humides de l’Alaotra en tant que source de plantes utiles pour la population locale. La gestion durable du lac Alaotra n’est donc pas seulement nécessaire à la conservation de la biodiversité mais aussi au maintien des moyens de subsistance locaux.


Keywords


Lake Alaotra; wetlands; ethnobotany; useful plants; Lac Alaotra; zones humides; ethnobotanique; plantes utiles; Madagascar

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