The Ankarana region of northwest Madagascar is home to the Antakarana people, one of over 20 tribes on the island.
The Ankarana is renowned for its incredible ecosystem as well as its unique culture. This is one of the few places on earth where karst limestone massifs dominate the landscape, and one of the last places in Madagascar where traditional royalty (in the form of a prince, or “mpanjaka”) rivals the political government as the dominant local authority.
Ecology meets culture in the Ankarana in a critical way: the caves within the karst limestone massifs are sacred to the Antakarana people. The most sacred caves are burial grounds for royalty, and focal points for ancestral worship. The very name “Antakarana” is derived from the landscape: “anta-” means “people of”, and “harana” is the local name for the limestone massifs.
Preserving the culture and protecting the environment in the Ankarana are intertwined, interdependent, imperative goals in the region. Education is an essential vehicle for achieving them.