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Masika sipa

Ranavalona’s I. reign of terror

Ranavalona I

In 1828, after the death of her husband, Queen Ranavalona I. came into power by killing all other potential regents (wives, sons, mother). At that time, she was between 30 and 40 years old. Ranavalona I. went down in history rather ingloriously and bears the surname “the cruel”. Many Malagasy call her regency “tany maizina”, in English “years of darkness”. …

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Andrianampoinimerina, Madagascar’s most famous king

Andrianampoinimerina

In 1787, Andrianampoinimerina (loosely translated “the king who is not like the stupid” or “the one, who will always stay in the Merina’s hearts”) was chosen by his father as successor to the throne of the Ambohimanga kingdom – that’s at least what legends tells. He was then 42 years old. Historians instead say that a grandson of Andrianjaka, prince …

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Development and division of the Merina kingdom

After about twenty years, Andriantsimitoviaminandriandehibe died around 1670, and his oldest son Razakatsitakatrandriana came into power. He married two wives, Ravololontsimitovy from his father’s clan and Rafoloarivo from another clan, with whom he got four sons and six daughters. Whether it is by accident that both women share the names of his grandfather’s wives, or whether it might have been …

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The beginning of the Merina kingdom

According to deliverance, the first king of the Merina people was Andrianerinerina (andrian = king, Nerinerina = his actual name). Legend tells he came from heaven and subdued the legendary Vazimba people, and later Merina came out of this first people. His regency was followed by the queens Andriananjavonana, Andrianamponga I., Andrianamboniravina, Andranolava, Rafandrandava, Ramasindohafandrana, Rafandrampohy and Rafandramenitra. Written evidence …

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Viticulture in Madagascar

In 19th century yet, jesuitcal missionaries and with them their knowledge about viticulture reached the island of Madagascar. In 1802, the botanist André Michaux cultivated vines of the sort “Isabelle” (Vitis labrusca) in the area around Ivondro for the first time – rather more due to curiosity than because of economical reasons. In 1845, the French man Jean Laborde produced …

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Clad in armour but hardly protected: The Radiated Tortoise

They have not changed for millions of years and still fascinate people all over the world: tortoises. A particularly beautiful species lives in the south of Madagascar: the Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata). Its history begins long, long before the first people came to Madagascar. But it was not until 1802 that the Englishman George Shaw described the Radiated Tortoise. He …

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Life in drought and heat – The Malagasy collared lizard

Chalarodon madagascariensis

Only few animals can survive in Madagascar’s dry, hot south for long. One of them is the Madagascar sand lizard (Chalarodon madagascariensis). Madagascar has no large iguanas like you probably know iguanas from America. Instead the local iguanas are rather small, agile and swift – they are so special, that they got their own family, which exists nowhere else on …

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Nosy Komba

Nosy Komba

Nosy Komba, in English Lemur Island, is the nickname of a small island in the canal of Mozambique on Madagascar’s northwest coast. It belongs to the Diana region and is only a few kilometres from the nearest village on land, Ankify. From the port of Doany it takes about twenty minutes by motorboat across the sea, from Nosy Be it …

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The Malagasy Tree Boa

Because of many old legends and fairy tales it has a dubious reputation, but actually it is a fascinating forest dweller: The Malagasy Tree Boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis). It lives mainly in the rainforests of Madagascar’s east coast, but has also conquered other habitats such as the hot, dry southwest and south of the country. Even on some islands as well …

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A short, but colorful life – The Madagascan moon moth

One of the most beautiful lepidopterans of the Earth, but first of all one of the largest, lives in Madagascar’s rainforests: The Madagascan moon moth or comet moth (Argema mittrei). With a wingspan up to 20 cm, it exceeds nearly all lepidopterans worldwide, only the Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) from Asia, belonging to the same family of emperor moths (Saturniidae), …

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