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The rest of our catch-ups went without a hitch.
Our final day in the forest had arrived. We had to catch Andy the skink. My lemur catching giant mosquito net had yet to be utilized, mainly thanks to my long handled net and a precarious run up a tree with a bamboo ladder.
It was one of those nets that is big enough to cover a massive double bed - surely it was big enough to catch Andy. We waited for the first sighting and stretched the net out in a long line. Grainne was chief Skink herder and crashed about in the undergrowth, driving him towards us. He ran straight under the net and holed up in his favourite hiding place in Maline’s vegetable patch. We rest the net and Grainne drove him forwards again, and at last we got him, tangled up with a vine that we had to chop down rather than risk releasing him.
Michelle managed to anesthetize him through the net and we took him to the lemur table.
Maline seemed mystified by our furless catch.
The good news was that the washer was in fact plastic, so far easier to remove. Michelle cleaned up the wounds around his neck and we left him to recover in a washing up bowl in the sun.
I had a final swim in the river and tried to think of a way I could get myself back here to Ankarafa in the future. PhD students are encouraged to use the camp. There is such an array of species around the camp that people could be here year round. My reptile, bird and bug colleagues at the zoo would have a field day and if one of our maintenance team could come out, they could do no end around the camp, from sorting out the solar panels, to putting up shelves and guttering. The guides have a wealth of knowledge ready to share and despite the horrendous deforestation and desperate poverty of Madagascar, there is an under-current of local optimism and pride about the incredible species around us. And for me, even with the heat and the rooster and endless rice and beans, I could happily have stayed another week, another month, even three. Sadly we would have to start the trek back in the morning.
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