Friday, 28 October 2011

Madagascar - Part 1 Berenty and Zombitse

I have been home for two weeks now and have not stopped, but had the most amazing time and it really was a dream come true, plus Chris proposed so we have come home engaged! It was the most romantic proposal with an audience of Verreaux's sifakas including a 2 month old baby that all watched intently, needless to say we are very happy.

So, on to the wildlife and the country........

Madagascar is a truly beautiful and interesting country with so many different ecosystems, driving around it was hard to believe that the whole island was once covered in rainforest but now so little of this actually remains and in the south it is very much a spiny forest that is very dry. In terms of the country there are influences from both India (east of the country) and Africa (west of the country) and these influences were obvious as we drove through both the capital city of Tana and also through the countryside. One thing that become very apparent ( although we were already aware when we booked the trip) is that the best sites for wildlife are spread out across the island, and our first stop of Berenty was a flight to Fort Dauphin followed by a four hour drive but it was definitely worth it. It was the one place I have always wanted to go and the only place we could wonder around by ourselves and it world famous for two species of lemur in particular, the ring-tailed lemur and the Verreaux's sifaka so only right to include a photo of each!

Although these species are very charismatic and very endearing, there is a lot more to the area including geckos, chameleons, owls, snakes and of course other lemurs. Whilst at Berenty, we spent as much time as possible outside taking walks and finding what we could but this wasn't just at Berenty Reserve, we were lucky enough to be able to visit a couple of other reserves in the spiny forest which proved to be very fruitful both during the day and also at night which included this large headed gecko:

We encountered a grass snake, scorpion and several white-footed sportive lemurs which although restricted to the spiny forests of the south are not listed on the IUCN Redlist as there is currently insufficient data on this species to allow classification and unfortunately this is the case for many of the less well known species. Needless to say there are many, many photos and videos which can be seen on my website, Flickr and Facebook pages so please do visit and have a browse and maybe even leave a comment. 

Eventually it was time to leave Berenty and following a couple of days of travelling our next real wildlife hotspot was Zombitse National Park, not only on the the newest parks but is also of huge biological significance as it forms one of the last remnants of transitional forest between the western and southern regions. It is home to a re-classified lemur, the Zombitse sportive lemur which is thought to be found nowhere else on the island and we were very lucky to see one sitting right out in the open, so here it is:

To finish off this instalment we have some flatid leaf bugs in their larval stage which are very strange indeed they look all fluffy and this is actually a predator defence mechanism. The next blog instalment will included stories and images from Isalo and Ranomafana National Parks and will appear in the coming weeks and then the last instalment from Madagascar will be based on Andasibe-Mantadia and will include some links to videos including mating fossas! In the meantime, I have wedding venues to visit and a trip to Norfolk to plan, so until then happy snapping and if you do have any questions or there is a species you would like me to include in the next post just drop me an email!