Lake Ravelobe, also known as Lac Ravelobe, is a sacred lake located in the Ankarafantsika National Park, 115 kilometres south of Majunga in the west of Madagascar.
The lake is a true paradise for birders, as there are fantastic bird watching opportunities. Amongst the birds which can be observed are:
- Haliaeetus vociferoides - Madagascar fish eagle
- Plegadis falcinellus - Glossy ibis
- Ardea humbloti - Humblot's heron
- African darter
- Ardea purpurea - Purple Heron
- Actophilornis albinucha - Madagascan jacana
- Terpsiphone mutata - Madagascar paradise-flycatcher
- Dendrocygna viduata - White-faced whistling duck
There are also Nile crocodiles living in the lake.
Legends about Lake Ravelobe
Ravelobe was a Malagasy patriot who participated in World War II. Back home, he asked the French colonists to administrate the cantonment of Ambatoboeny, but his request was denied. He then formed a group of rebells in the garafantsy ("hill of thorns"). From there on, Ravelobe and his followers robbed travellers and bypassers.
The crocodiles of Lake Ravelobe are considered sacred. Every year zebus are sacrificed to these crocodiles, which have a specific name: mampisento - "that is sighing". The story of the mampisento crocodiles dates back to the days of King Andriamisondrotramasinarivo of the Marambitsy lineage (Sakalava ethnic group, originating from Mitsinjo), who out of pride, not wanting the annexation of the Merina to his territory during the reign of Radama I (1810-1828), threw his family and himself into the lake. A gatekeeper of the king declined to follow his master into suicide. Shortly after he died, a crocodile appeared at the shore of the lake and spoke strangely in the voice of the gatekeeper and its sigh was for all those who saw it.
Until today the lake is sacred and pork is not allowed in the area, as the Marambitsy were Muslims.