Breakfast Male Lemur
Research Scientists at Berenty
HOMEPAGE of the Berenty Website The Berenty Reserve Tourism Website The Ako Project


Pictured below: Robert Dury, aged 15, is shipwrecked on the coast of Androy in 1703.

From "Madagascar, or Robert Drury's Journal during Fifteen Year's Captivity on that Island", London, W. Meadows, 1729.


Drury, an English midshipman, was a slave to the Tandroy lords about 1703-1720. Read of his account of the early customs of the Tandroy People in...

In Search of the Red Slave bookcover
In Search of the Red Slave

The History and People of Berenty

Berenty reserve was founded in 1936, by Henry and Alain de Heaulme. They gained a French government "Concession" to exploit 6000 ha of land beside the Mandrare River, felling the forest and planting sisal. They negotiated agreement with local villagers for the change, adding salaries to continued subsistence cultivation, and buffering people against the region's recurrent famines. Henry de Heaulme was Secretary to the Malagasy Independence Constitution. The family remains committed to Madagascar. Click here to read more about the de Heaulme family.

Mandrare River    
Mandrare Dawn Sky © Photo by D Custance    

The de Heaulmes had set aside 1000 ha of their land as reserves for purely aesthetic reasons because they admired the landscape even as they changed it. They also recognized that the gallery forests were unique, different from almost any other forests of the region. With the arrival of Alison Jolly in 1963, Berenty became a focus for ever-increasing biological research. It was not until the 1980s that the reserve also became a tourist destination (see Visitors), and a magnet for photographers and television (see Media).

  The de Heaulmes by the Berenty gate, 1960s
   The present owner, Jean de Heaulme and his father Henry, Berenty gate, 1960s © Collection de Heaulme

The Tandroy people have lived in the dry southeast of Madagascar for about 400 years. Their royal lineage was described by Flacourt in 1661, and their early customs by Robert Drury, an English midshipman who was a slave to Tandroy lords about 1703-1720. Archaeologists Mike Parker Pearson and Karen Godden ( have shown that Drury's account was largely true (In Search of the Red Slave; see also Lords & Lemurs).

Jaona Tsiminono (The Never-Suckled) as a young man
with his leaf-bladed spear. His grandfather Mahafaha
was the first Tandroy to grant land to the de
Heaulmes in what is now Ankoba.

Original portrait by Paul Richard, photographed by A. Jolly
  Jaona Tsiminono, as a young man

Tandroy are pastoral people whose traditions revolve around ownership of zebu cattle, and whose pride is elaborate funerals and tombs for their ancestors. The Museum of Androy at Berenty presents contemporary Tandroy culture as recorded by anthropologists Georges Heurtebize and Sarah Fee. Tandroy dancers may show their art to tourists.

Steam Engine
Bringing the first steam engine to Berenty. Photo by Alain de Heaulme, about 1937.