Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Tsimanampetsotsa National Park (TNP) is in the southwest of Madagascar. My camp is about 10km inland from the Mozambique Channel, and maybe 1 km east of the Tsimanampetsotsa hypersaline lake. It is a really beautiful and bizarre forest, that literally kicks the s*%t out of me every single day I am there.

In the Natural History of Madagascar (Goodman and Benstead, 2003), Goodman said:

"This is a rather inhospitable zone, with its near lack of fresh water, impenetrable spiny bush, and razor sharp limestone outcrops."

For shiz. Additionally, on the conditions of TNP Braun and Yahnke (2010) state:

"Much of the vegetation has sharp spines and/or thorns, making it inhospitable to humans and difficult for researchers to navigate (emphasis added)."

Braun and Yahnke (2010) further note that animal behavior at TNP is 'difficult to document' because of rough terrain, and that the spiny vegetation is 'impossible to navigate'.

And they are correct. Oh, and did I mention it was hot? It is. F*%#ing hot. I have one camera trap photo with a temp of 55°C (131°F). The following photo of a shows a Harrier Hawk nest with a temerature of 53°C (127.4°F)- I can't find the 55 degree one at the moment. Just to put that in perspective, the hottest recorded temperature on earth is from Libya at a whopping 57.8°C (136.0°F).

So, its inhospitable, difficult, impossible, and f#@$ing hot. BUT, its also beautiful and the animals are fantastic. The lemurs can get around just fine and have all sorts of paths and routes throughout the "impossible" spiny vegetation. When they decided to move, I am comparably slow, but eventually I catch up to them again and again. And when its really hot, the lemurs sit in the shade and hug the bases of trees, which tend to stay cooler that anything else, well, cool as in 45°C can be. So I too sit in the shade and try to hug a tree. And drink about 7L of water. Seriously.

Here is some lemur tree hugging:

Now that I know the lemurs its hard to be away because I don't want to miss anything. Who's fighting with whom? Is 'Tumour' still popular with the ladies? Did baby 'Creature' or 'And The Brain' learn to alarm call yet? Did I miss it? Has the fossa been around?! Plus there are oodles of other critters to keep up with. Radiated tortoise, Harrier Hawk, the Bastards (ie Galidictis grandidieri), and of course my chickens.

That's all for now. Here is what might be my most exciting pic thus far...

Braun, S. and C. Yahnke. 2004. "Galidictis grandidieri" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 11, 2010 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Galidictis_grandidieri.html.

Goodman, S.M. 2003. Galidictis, Broad-striped Mongoose. In: The Natural History of Madagascar. Goodman SM, Benstead JP, editors. Chicago University Chicago Press.


  1. do the fossa come to your tent? And where do you get your drinking water? What do you think is the lemur's main food thus far? At Anja it's Melia azadirach, which is like kily for south-central L. catta (where there is no kily). This is all very interesting. How do you deal with the outrageous heat?


  2. Hi Lisa! No, the fossa are very elusive and I haven't actually seen one, YET. The lemurs main food has changed every month, thus far. Right now they are really underweight and rough looking. I am mostly accustom to the heat, but I find it impossible to work when its ove about 45°C, so when its that hot I mostly sit in the shade and sweat.