Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Madagascar = 0, Marni = 1.

Madagascar barely tried to kill me. Like almost not at all. And really, I have nothing but good things to report. Imagine that. Two minor but notable incidences include my 1) nearly getting gored by a herd of rogue forest zebu (we, the zebu and I, had a misunderstanding as to my intentions and they decided to take a preemptive strike), and then my 2) getting a burning, blistering mystery insect bite that nearly drove me to chew off my own arm (and a good chunk of my torso). I tried everything short of human breast milk (a common cure for maladies around these parts, but unfortunately I didn’t have access to a lactating woman) to ease the excruciating itch and blazing hot burn, but 48 hours was all the metaphorical doctor ordered. Otherwise, all is/was good.

I am thrilled to report that the illegal human activities which were taking place within Tsimanampetsotsa National Park have dramatically decreased (see Conservation Sucks). Imagine that! I did collect quite a few “death balls” (horrible endemic fruits used to snare animals), but thankfully, no animals had been caught. And, get this, I saw 11 tortoises!! Previously, I stated that the critically endangered radiated and spider tortoises were likely locally extinct, but gosh darn it, I was wrong. Yet another pleasant surprise. There is still much work to be done in reforestation and forest protection; however some admirable strides have been made and my faith in humanity is moderately restored. Today.  

Destroying death balls. And looking odd.
OMG. Radiated tortoise on its tip-toes. 

I didn’t accomplish as much as I had hoped (but really, do we ever?) for a variety of reasons such as not having a car, not having any student assistants, and the fact that elementary school is out of session, but I got in lots of good quality lemur time and collected a remarkable number of lemur urine samples (36, FYI). I love these animals so very much and seeing how their lives change (or don’t) year after year is wonderful. Especially when neither of you are actively dying. 

The gang. 

Lemur fingers. Because I love them almost as much as lemur toes. 
More to come. 

1 comment:

  1. So happy to hear that things have, at least for the moment, settled down, regarding lemurs and tortoises. Did the L.c. population numbers (or what you saw of them) seem similar to when you did your Ph.D. research? Did you make any headway re: hiring guards that will actually patrol the forest? Or has MNP appointed anyone recently?
    All sounds very positive. Except for the evil insect bite. Sounds like the kind of thing that Evil Eric would do. Did you see any flying knives? LG