Tsimanampetsotsa National Park, named after its spectacular lake and main park highlight, is located in the southwest of Madagascar, not far from the coast and approximately 90km south of Tulear and comprises 430 km² of spiny forest and wetlands. This area was already protected in 1927 due to its biological meaning (90% of the flora and fauna is endemic!) mainly as habitat for water birds, and became a National Park in 1966. These water supplies are basic both for humans and for animals and plants, since Tsimanampetsotsa (which means “lake without dolphins” in Malagasy) lies in the most arid zone of the island, which receives only around 300 mm rain each year.
Apart from the lake itself, there are two main landscapes inside the park: a calcareous plateau covered with dense xerophilous thickets (a locally endemic spiny forest), huge baobabs and banyan trees, and the sand dunes along the coast covered by a grassy blanket. The park also has numerous caves and sinkholes, which are the result of an underground stream.
Tsimanampetsotsa is a birders paradise. More than 100 species are found here, including pink, greater and dwarf flamingos forming big colonies on the lake, 5 coua species, Archbold´s newtonia, Madagascar plover, red-shouldered vanga or Lafresnaye´s vanga.
Apart from birds, there are 12 species of mammals, among them the extremely rare and local endemic Grandidier´s mongoose and 4 lemur species: ring-tailed lemur, Verreaux´s sifaka, Gray-brown mouse lemur and white-footed sportive lemur.
Among the 39 reptile species, the most significant one is the radiated turtle, which is endemic to this region and extremely endangered to extinction.
Because of the chemical composition of the saline lake, no fish can survive in it. Nevertheless, the unique blind fish of the world is easy to find in some underground caves.