16/04/2015

Blog from the field - the Zebu cart

Here's an update from Al and our team in Madagascar.

I can’t get to sleep. After stumbling about the forest in the dark, I’m hot and I stink. I know I stink because I have to share a coffin type tent with myself, my damp backpack and a bottle of chemically charged purified water, which adds a swimming pool tang to the stifling air every time I gulp some down. The forest cheeps and twitters and the tin roof above the tent pings and clatters as rain hammers through camp. I feel the temperature drop and the rooster falls out of his tree and begins to crow.

We were pleased to see the chickens at first, thinking eggs, but Maline, the cook, has a fady about poultry. They are taboo and she has to avoid them – even when they are climbing up onto the camp stove or eating the rice as she tries to clean it. The only place to get cool is the river. I save it until after lunch and float on my back, looking up at the mass of green above. There are a few webs of course with huge black and red spiders, but they are too high to accidently become a hat or a mask. Afterwards I lie in the hammock and doze – tough day at work.

I’m woken by the click, grunt vocalisations of blue-eyed black lemurs. A young male looks down at me stretched out in the hammock. An adult female follows, her golden fur makes her blue eyes stand out as she too stops to stare. Thirteen of them go by in all, on route to the fig tree behind Michelle’s tent.

‘The zebu cart has arrived!’ Tsiouri calls. We gather round as Michelle assembles the blow pipe, but she quickly gives up on it due to the lack of accuracy and need for incredible lung capacity and assembles the dart projector instead, which is powered by Co2 canisters.

A target is set up and Michelle begins complicated calculations with a tape measure to work out the correct pressure required for the darts. My own equipment is less technical. Pillowcases, gauntlets and a net fitted to a set of extendable tent poles that our guides find hilarious.

As night falls we set out hoping to catch our first Lepilemur.

Read the previous blog here.

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