Ranomafana National Park was set up in 1991 to protect two species of rare lemur – the golden bamboo lemur and the greater bamboo lemur. Today it is one of Madagascar’s most popular parks with a great forest, teeming with a huge selection of wildlife.
In 1986, the golden lemur was discovered in the area. Ranomafana’s protected montane rainforest is a sanctuary for wildlife of an area of 1,600 ha at altitudes between 800m and 1,200m. Located 445 km south of Antananarivo and 65 km east of Fianarantsoa, the reserve is dominated by the Namorona River that is fed by many streams flowing from the hills and plunges past the eastern escarpment near the park entrance.
The magical cloud forest is fresh and cool, punctuated by rolling hills, waterfalls and dark-green vegetation.
Other lemur species, besides the golden bamboo lemur, include:
- Greater bamboo lemur
- Red-bellied lemur
- Grey bamboo lemur
- Milne-Edwards sifaka
- Red-fronted brown lemur
- Sportive lemur
- Black-and-white ruffed lemur
- Greater dwarf lemur
- Brown mouse lemur
Ranomafana also hosts the fanaloka, the eastern ring-tailed mongoose, the red forest rat, the eastern avahi and ring-tailed mongoose. The fossa and the aquatic tenrec are also present but very hard to spot.
Reptile and frog species include:
- Parson’s chameleon
- O’Shaughnessy’s chameleon
- Short-horned chameleon (caluma brevicornis)
- Madagascar tree boa
- Three species of leaf-tailed geckos: uroplatus fimbriatus, U. Sikorae and U. Phantasticus
- Common day gecko (phelsuma quadriocellata)
- Numerous frogs belonging to the genera boophis and mantidactylus
The National Park of Ranomafana is arguably the best Malagasy rainforest for bird watching. Some species to be found in this rainforest are:
- Blue coua
- Pollen’s vanga
- Velvet asity
- Pitta-like ground roller
- Scaly ground roller
- Brown mesite
- Henst’s goshawk
- Madagascar flufftail
- Forest rock-thrush
One area of the forest at Ranomafana is known as Vohiparara. Vohiparara is situated about 5 km toward Fianarantsoa. It is at a higher elevation and preferred location for a few species such as: pollens vanga, common sunbird-asity or yellow-browed oxylabes.
The park organises a nocturnal forest viewing with a night feeding station. Although it is somewhat zoo-like, there is no doubt that it gives most visitors their only real chance at getting close to nocturnal mammals and to photograph them. These include the red-bellied lemur, the diminutive and incredibly tame brown mouse lemur, and the fanaloka (striped civet).