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Follow the team as they head out into the forest.
We head out into the forest, armed with the dart projector, gloves, pillow cases and a massive mosquito net that we can hold beneath any Lepilemur we happen to dart, to catch it when it falls from it’s tree.Ten darts later we plod back into camp hot and dejected. The good news is the Lepilemur don’t respond as the darts whistle past them to lodge in the canopy or disappear into the undergrowth. The bad news is they’re very hard to shoot.
I raise the technique of positive visualization - something my step-daughter bangs on about when she’s up against it and we return to the forest with mental images of a Lepilemur safe in a pillowcase ready for its radio collar. ‘Lepi,’ the guide whispers.
We gather around the tree. The lemur peers through the branches unconcerned. Michelle aims the dart projector. We collectively hold our breath and she hits it. The perfect shot.
The lemur jumps into the next tree and we fan out to follow. No time to avoid spider webs or spiky vines as we slide down a slope, eyes in the trees.
The lemur stops.
And clings on.
It’s in range of my extendable net. I’m slightly distracted by the spider webs all over my head and the tingle as something runs down my back. Tsiouri, the Malagasy masters student, helps me fit the poles together and I raise the net towards the animal. It doesn’t move. Again we collectively hold our breath and I scoop it into the net and transfer it to the pillowcase.
Back at the camp, after weighing the lemur and pillowcase, we stretch it out on the table. He’s a male.
Michelle calmly begins an array of tests and measurements. Everyone gathers round keen to help. We are fascinated by being able to get a closer look at their unique lemur adaptations, the grooming claw and tooth comb.
Isabella, our Bristol Zoological Society PhD student, names him Ivan and attaches his radio collar, noting down his unique frequency. With the tests complete we return him to the pillowcase, which we have to suspend out of the reach of any predators to wait for him to come round from the anesthetic.
Everyone is grinning.
One down. Three to go…
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