Three things immediately come to mind when naming the villages of Ifaty and Mangily, some 17 mi north of Tuléar: one, seaside tourism in a dream site, two, fishing villages because Ifaty has almost become a generic name for the whole lagoon, and three, the "dust ball" or "Tsom-demboke", high in color and tropical rhythms.
Less well known is the initiative to protect turtles at the "Tanànan'i Sokake" opened in 2005 with initially some 900 "boarders". The center, which spans 17 ac, aims to welcome and treat turtles seized from traffickers by customs, police, Eaux et Forêts or Angap. The star-studded turtle "Sokake" or "Astrochelys Radiata", whose flesh is unfortunately very much appreciated by the Vezo while it is "fady" (taboo) among the Sakalava, and the small spider turtle "Soakapila" or "Pyxis Arachnoide". Saved from pseudo-good kitchens and other pet stores, turtles are gradually released into their natural habitats. While "Tanànan'i Sokake" is not quite a "site" in the visual sense of the word, it plays with discretion an important role in the conservation of the natural heritage of the Malagasy South and its ecotourism.
The South-West coral reef extends hundreds of miles from Andavadoaka in the north to Itampolo in the south, but it is common to associate it more with Ifaty than with another site on the coast. The coral reefs generate and protect an environment that allows to safely admire the underwater fauna and flora. Those of Ifaty are intercalated passes that connect the high sea and the lagoon. Inside, the depth rarely exceeds 16 ft. The fabulous underwater landscape formed by corals, anemones, and sponges bathe in colors and plays with nuances depending on the tide, while an infinite variety of multicolored fish and exotic names weave and compose their whirling choreographies...
Text: Thompson Andriamanoro
Photos Pierre-Yves Babelon