09/04/2015

Blog from the field - arriving at the Ankarafa Research Camp

Our team in Madagascar have arrived in the Ankarafa Research Camp. Here's their story.

We are greeted in camp by Isabella, whose project we are assisting with, Tsiouri, her Malagasy masters student, Andy, her research assistant, Maline, the cook and the camp guides.  The camp is a collection of tin and leaf roofed huts. 

Maline puts a kettle onto the open fire for a tea-like beverage and Isabella leads us off to inspect “the shower” – a mildly rushing muddy river with a small pool just big enough for a swim, surrounded by bamboo and heavy leafed trees.
 
It is almost impossible to move around camp without walking through webs, home to an array of massive, variably coloured spiders. Wildlife is everywhere. Cries go up all the time; 
‘Chameleon.’  Followed by ‘Snake…massive boa under the fig tree.’ And ‘rat…no tenrec! Look it’s a tenrec!’
We set up our tents on raised bamboo platforms beneath broad tin roofs and the next shout goes up. ‘They’re here'. I assume it’s the zebu cart with our gear, but its three male blue-eyed black lemurs.

They leap through the trees along the river, peer down at us new arrivals. I’m firing off camera shots at one of the world’s twenty-five most endangered primates, rubbish photos because I’m too excited to concentrate on the zoom. The lemurs launch off through the forest, the trees sway in their wake.

‘Zebu!’ Isabella shouts.  Again I expect the cart, but it’s a wandering zebu that has come to investigate Maline’s vegetable patch.

News of the cart comes eventually. It has been turned back as local farmers have planted rice across the path. Without the equipment it carries, we can’t catch a single Lepilemur.

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