The Crayfish of Madagascar ( at last )

New Madagascar crayfish photos here



The red one is probably Astacoides Caldwellii (it seems marginally less spiky than populations further to the west of where this occurs which I believe t be A. betsiloensis red type BUT its very marginal). Its local name
is oranmena (red crayfish) and this specimen was from the village of Bevohajo, at 650 m about 4 hours walk north east of the village of
Ranomafana, Fianarantsoa province.

The red and green one is A. betsiloensis red/green type from Vohiparara at
about 1100m, this is about 14 km west along the road from Ranomafana village. This is known as Oransatria (well that means 'because crayfish' strictly but when I have asked people why its called that it seems they all think its nothing to do with that and has a different root so best say unknown meaning)


There are six species of crayfish in Madagascar, all are endemic to the island and most are probably threatened with extinction. The people in the areas where these crayfish live are subsistence rice-farmers, and crayfish harvesting is extremely important to them, both economically and as a source of protein. However, over-harvesting, combined with deforestation, has resulted in populations being lost.

A woman from Ranomafana, Madagascar, selling crayfish by the roadside.


Julia Jones looking for crayfish in a stream in Ranomafana, Madagascar

This project will explore ways to increase the sustainability of crayfish exploitation. It will focus on social issues and will run alongside a scientific crayfish research programme. By involving local communities in every stages of the study it is hoped to arrive at an acceptable way of ensuring sustainable harvesting. Crayfish are fast growing with relatively high rates of reproduction so changes in harvesting practice should be quickly seen in the population. Increasing the minimum size of individuals harvested and preventing harvesting during the breeding season could quickly benefit both the crayfish populations and the catches of local fishermen.

About Julia Jones our first serious lady contributor

PhD Research Student

I was an undergraduate here in the Department of Zoology at Cambridge. After two years doing various short-term jobs for BirdLife International, the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology and others, I returned to the department in January 2001 to start a PhD.

Research Interests

My PhD is on the ecology and exploitation of crayfish in Madagascar. Malagasy crayfish all belong to the genus Astacoides, endemic to Madagascar and found only in the forest rivers and streams of the eastern highlands of the country. They are an important source of food and income to local communities, however, there has been concern that they are being over exploited and that populations and even species may be threatened with extinction. My research focuses on the population dynamics and ecology of this group with the aim of providing biological and socio-economic information to stake holders in Madagascar (government agencies, NGOs and crayfish harvesters) to allow them to develop improved management techniques. In collaboration with Landscape Development Interventions (LDI) and the Association National pour la Gestion des Aires Protégées (ANGAP) I have been investigating the feasibility of developing low-technology aquaculture techniques for Malagasy crayfish as an alternative to wild exploitation.

PS Thanks Chris for finding Julia for us.