Category Archives: Snakes

Wild Madagascar – Adventure to Nosy Mangabe Reserve Speciale – Part One 25/09/16 – 28/09/16

The journey was a long winded one, a full twenty-four hours was lost via shuttle bus (which took nearly 6 hours) and then had to wait till 2am for the Melissa Express boat, a gut wrenching and stomach turning twelve hours of constant rocking and broken sleep that is accompanied by the sound of nearly sixty people being sick into plastic buckets that are provided for this specific reason (Incredibly kind of them – That isn’t sarcasm, trust me).  I do very well on any method of transportation, I can sleep anywhere even in the rainforest on a bed of leaf litter covered in leeches, but the sound of continuous vomiting was a bit much so I got out of my seat and went outside on deck.
The crew were startled at first by me venturing onto the deck but I sat with them, shared some Salto Crackers and had a few laughs with my broken Malagasy, then fell asleep against a very warm metal seal that led to the engine. Eventually, they woke me up once the first light appeared on the horizon an started pointing out the main sights to see, including Mananara – Nord and eventually the islands (Nosy) that lay in the middle of Antongili Bay, this included the beautiful little charming Nosy Mangabe. This island, I have wanted to visit since I was no more than a young boy, a place to tick off my bucket list.

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Nosy Managbe, not photographed on the best of days but that really doesn’t matter! It was like approaching Jurassic Park… © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

Unfortunately for us though, we went straight past it, we would have to go to the Madagascar National Parcs office that is situated in Maroantsetra, a city where ships and boats port to relieve themselves of their passengers and stock items.  Eventually, we retrieved the luggage and then made our way via Taxi-Brousse to the MNP office, which I heard was made entirely out of Madagascan Rosewood (Dalbergia maritima), an endangered species of tree  with a deep red coloured appearance which is incredibly expensive due to the rareness of its’ existence, mainly believe it or not attributed to habitat-loss. How that works having the MNP office for Masoala National Parc made out of this, I don’t know, I tried not to think about it too much… But anyway, it was a mission to actually get there, with the Taxi-Brousse driver, who was local and been doing it years, having no idea where the office was and took us to several different hotels before finally understanding the same words I had repeated twelve times. Frustrating, to say the very least. But we got there and that was the main thing and I can totally confirm that the office was made out of Rosewood and  unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to photograph it. But once over the initial awe I had for the building, I walked into the office and began to speak to the head of Eco-Tourism for the area and told her we wanted to be on Nosy Mangabe by Lunch time and she, to my surprise was very happy with this and I was able to arrange all the particulars. I had to state my personal reasons for being on the island and that I was doing data collection on the endemic population of Climbing Mantella (Mantella laevigata) and she stated what I was allowed to do and not to do which included the collection of samples and so on.
That wasn’t a problem, as that is not what I was after and I showed her the equipment I would be using to measure UV, Temperature and Humidity at the specific biotopes for the species which she claimed were numerous.  After an hour of discussion, decision and friendly chatter the boat was secured, a guide called Donna Franklin was assigned to us and we were well underway with the adventure.

To say the very least, I was buzzing and eager to just get moving and after an hour of buying supplies for the four days and three nights we would be upon Nosy Mangabe, we finally boarded the speed boat and left Maroantsetra. It began to rain and it was slightly overcast, now to most people that would be a nightmare for them if they were to go to an island with pristine beaches to bathe upon and it was raining but, not for me.  To me that weather is perfect conditions not just for me but for the animals I wish to see. I am not made for the sun unfortunately and am quite terrified by it, this is mainly due to the incident when I was young which involved the sun and a bed for 2 weeks suffering with severe sunburn and sunstroke. But that’s enough of my childhood dramas, finally we got into Antongili bay and saw the island and the only way to describe how I was feeling would be to say, it was like approaching Jurassic Park and the entire time that famous theme music was just playing in my head as we got closer and closer, until we finally got to the beach which every visitor lands.

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Leaving the main river of Maroantsetra, the biggest town in Antongili Bay. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Most people seemed to be avoiding leaving the safety of the river and coming back from the sea… © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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In the distance, the island! I had the biggest smile on my face at this point. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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As we got closer, I noticed that the reserve was everything people told me it was and more. A island covered in untouched primary rainforest which goes all the way up to the cliff edges. Beautiful. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We finally arrived at the beach that welcomes it’s visitors too it, where everyone lands. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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A beautiful beach, this particular area has been used in such documentaries as Last Chance to See with Steven Fry. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

I took that giant step off the boat onto the yellow sand covered shoreline, and immediately felt at home and soon after establishing our tent and getting our things together, I ran off like some excited child high on the atmosphere and prospect of not knowing what we were going to find. I stood in the middle of the main camp site, and heard a very familiar sound which I grew accustomed to after breeding them for quite some time in captivity. This was the sound of the resident species of Mantella, I walked to a Bamboo grove which was situated very closely to the Kitchens and immediately got onto my hands and knees, rummaging around, sitting still every so often and paying attention to every sound or movement I saw and heard.

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Tonga Soa eto Nosy Mangabe. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Thankfully and gratefully, they provided translated copies of the writing explaining the rules and regulations of the MNP. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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This would be home for 3 nights, I got very comfortable I can’t deny it. I believe this was the shelter that was provided for Steven Fry. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

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Now, I am not going to lie, I normally have to go on some crazy trips and spend hours trying to find the species of interest to me but this time it was different. Just sat there, were approximately seven different Climbing Mantella (Mantella laevigata) specimens, minding their own business and unaware of my presence in their home. Well, I can be a very emotional man to be brutally honest depending on the situations and I can say without a care in the world to you all that I cried, I had a good old sob whilst on my own seeing something I had wanted to see for more than half my lifetime. It was a perfect moment for me, I didn’t know what to do first, take photographs of the area and the specimens, film footage on my video camera or start collecting the data I required so, I did what was appropriate and started streaming the waterworks.

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Preferred habitat for the Arboreal Mantella (Mantella laevigata) population upon Nosy Mangabe. Everytime you walk through these areas, you will always find specimens in plentiful amounts. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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© 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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© 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Arboreal or Climbing Mantella (Mantella laevigata) © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

Once that was out of my system, I was able to go about and do what I do, crawling around on my stomach remembering my favourite phrase “Mora Mora” or in English “Slowly Slowly” , which was drilled into me on my previous trip and to have patience. “Take your time” I whispered to myself , “Don’t mess this up” and eventually I was little more and a foot and a half away from the biggest individual, a female who was surrounded by quite a few males which were calling to their little heart’s content.

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Female Arboreal Mantella (Mantella laevigata) © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Female Arboreal Mantella (Mantella laevigata) © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Male and female specimens together. The male was in the process of calling out. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

So I snapped away with my Nikon D3100, Macro lens attached and flashing away but after an hour of being still and watching, something else caught my attention in the form of a miniature swift movement. Crickets are everywhere, all over the floor you see flying and gliding movements of them constantly but this was significantly different and I moved closer and looked closer and saw the smallest frog specimen I had ever seen in person, sat on a leaf calling away situated quite close to what looked like a blob of spit between leaves.

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This was the little guy making all the noise, so much noise from a single Thumbnail Frog (Stumpffia sp.) specimen! © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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13.5mm in size, from my measurements. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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© 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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The ventral side of the specimen was surprisingly beautiful. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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The potential foam nest from the same species, he was calling very close to it. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

It was little more than 13.5mm in size, possibly 14mm and absolutely perfect in every way imaginable and from the fact it was calling, it was an adult male or perhaps a young male. I picked it up after taking a few photographs of it on the leaf and took a perspective shot of the individual perched upon my thumb then one of its dorsal (Bird’ Eye View), lateral (Side View) and ventral (Underside View) and I must tell you now, encouraging Thanatosis (causing the specimen to play dead) on something this small was no mean feat, but I certainly achieved it. This was a member of one of the smallest genera of Anura on the planet, the Stumpffia genus and after much investigation, I concluded with a few other friends that this is more likely a new species or perhaps one of the two that are currently in the progress of being described. It was incredibly exciting, I had always wanted to see a member of this legendary genus and right there in front of me,  and it was.

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From only 3ft away, it is little more than a speck! © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

After little more than a few minutes, there was another species of miniature frog, a completely different species jumping around, it was heaven and I wanted to spend all my time there but I knew that it was time for lunch and we had walks planned further into the forest. Before I left the grove though, I noticed a Male Climbing Mantella (Mantella laevigata) on the edge of a Bamboo cane which was filled with water, once he noticed me he leapt from the bamboo and made his way into hiding. I looked into the hollow and it was too dark and I didn’t have my head-torch about my person, so I took a few photographs and told myself I would check later to see whether this bamboo hollow was important to the individual male guarding it.

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Another potentially new species of Thumbnail Frog (Stumpffia sp.) found within the bamboo grove. From only 3ft away, it is little more than a speck! © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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This measured slightly bigger at 15mm is size. From only 3ft away, it is little more than a speck! © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

In matter of fact, when I did check this photograph on my laptop, I zoomed in further and saw a tadpole, almost ready to hatch out from its egg that was perfectly positioned next to the water filling the bamboo cane. Seeing this behaviour in the wild, well, it was outstanding. The area however, was swarming with other species of anurans, all living sympatrically without a single thought on the other species.

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The first photograph took, thinking “meh, lets just take the picture anyway as an example.” From only 3ft away, it is little more than a speck! © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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I took this slightly closer photograph… From only 3ft away, it is little more than a speck! © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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This was the resulting image of the zoomed in shot. From only 3ft away, it is little more than a speck! © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Mantella weren’t the only guys that liked the Bamboo. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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White Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Duboimantis) luteus) with it’s cryptic leaf-like markings. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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I don’t really know what species this is but was interestingly marke almost like a Theloderma. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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© 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.????????????

After a hearty lunch, Donna took us along the forest path towards the Fisherman’s huts, near the southern part of the island. One of the guardians of the island, having spent already a month on his own upon Nosy Mangabe, went on ahead of us to do his daily checks and also to scout anything out for us, which included one of the largest species of the Leaf-tailed Gecko (Gekkonidae: Uroplatus) genus, the Frilled Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus). Our guide, who shared a huge passion for both Amphibia and Reptilia decided to create a competition between the three of us, who could find the specimen first. Whilst he had the upper hand, I still tried my hardest to spot this animal, having experienced pure frustration to the point of hair pulling in the Perinet region trying to find the local populace of Mossy Leaf-tiled Geckos (Uroplatus sikorae) and Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus phantasticus) but to be brutally honest, it wasn’t even remotely as difficult. In fact, annoyingly there it was right on the pathway upon a tree perfectly camouflaged (Well, we were looking for it…) against the moss and lichen covered tree bark.

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The view from the beach at the smaller of the two summits. This is the summit which has the Lighthouse upon it that is no longer used. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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The edge of the pathway one the trail to the fisherman’s hut. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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The path ahead… © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

It was huge, the entire length of the specimen was longer than my hand and  this wasn’t easy to capture within image form. Sat there impressively, he didn’t seem remotely interested or bothered by us, which brought me to the simple conclusion regarding the rarity of the population of Uroplatus in the Andasibe region, there simply are far too many tourists visiting the Mitsinjo, VOI. M.M.A and Andasibe-Mantadia National Parcs causing the specimens to venture deeper into the more secure parts of the Analamazoatra, to non-ventured grounds where they can have peace and quiet.
It was really a bit of common sense, as we were practically all alone upon Nosy Mangabe and prices for visiting the landmark were already high enough, meaning less people venturing into these lush, pristine primary rainforests.

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Frilled Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) upon its tree, absolutely beautiful and brilliantly blended in. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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As you can see, this was a particularly large specimen! © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Typical red lined eyes of the Frilled Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Frilled Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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This one still had its original tail. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Obligatory picture, always a must! © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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© 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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© 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

Back to my story though, we eventually moved on further along the pathway to the Fisherman’s Huts and I must admit, the island was more than impressive showing already an abundance of different species of Anura, Reptiles and Arthropods from the continuous call of the Mantella populations to the floor being covered in various species including Spotted Digging Frogs (Plethodontohyla notosticta), Thumbnail Frogs (Stumpffia sp.) and even different colourations of  White Forest Frogs (Gephyromantis (Duboimantis) luteus) and White-marked Forest Frogs (Gephyromantis (Duboimantis) leucomaculatus) “Nosy Mangabe”.

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Spotted Digging Frog (Plethodontohyla notosticta) young specimen, there was millions of the all over the forest floor. You had to go out of your way to not trend on them! © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Spotted Digging Frog (Plethodontohyla notosticta). © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Ventral side of the Spotted Digging Frog (Plethodontohyla notosticta). © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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There were ome amazing places to stop, some breath taking. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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White-marked Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Duboimantis) leucomaculatus) “Nosy Mangabe”. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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The ventral side of the White-marked Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Duboimantis) leucomaculatus) “Nosy Mangabe”. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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A young White Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Duboimantis) luteus) specimen. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

Eventually, we turned back to camp after 3 hours of walking and our guide asked us if we would like to do a guided night walk with the guardians. Now I know for a fact that night walks are actually prohibited in National Parks however, on an island with no one else upon it and the opportunity being given to me on a plate… I could hardly say no, could I!? Of course, like everything in Madagascar I had to pay a fee to the guardians who acted as though this was acceptable, demanding over 100,000Ar per person and a fee for each Guide attending. I politely said no, explaining that I wasn’t stupid and that night hikes weren’t allowed in the first place and offered 50,000Ar and that would be all I would offer. Obviously they accepted this, realising they wouldn’t be able to make me budge on a perfectly reasonable price, so we enjoyed a hearty meal of rice, vegetables and the freshest fish I have ever had caught only 15 minutes before it was prepared.

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This stunning view, marked the end of the afternoons walk. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Dwarf Lemon Orchid (Aerangis citrata) along the walk back, my favourite species of orchid. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved
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Dinner, or will be! © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Felt really bad to eat something so beautiful, but it would have been a waste. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

We weren’t alone at the dinner table though, a mated pair of  White-fronted Brown Lemurs (Eulemur albifrons) were sat amongst the branches of the closet trees watching eyes with the classic wide eyes of an inquisitive Lemur. We gave them no food, however whilst we were distracted, they had made their own way into our kitchen and decided to eat our pot of rice that was still on the embers of the fire. Classy.

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White-fronted Brown Lemur (Eulemur albifrons) waiting for us to look away… © 2016 – Joshua Ralph
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White-fronted Brown Lemur (Eulemur albifrons) © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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They both managed to find a way into the kitchen!! © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

After a little nap in the tent, we got ready for our night walk and found Donna eagerly waiting for us with a huge smile on his face, the guardians however didn’t even bother looking at us or joining us which showed they were not happy with the fee they were offered, we left without them and got on with our adventure. It wasn’t long though until we came across not just one, but several of the nights herpetological finds! A weirdly marked Nosy Mangabe Giant Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Mantidactylus) sp. aff. grandidieri) perched itself at the bottom of a slow moving stream with a slight cascade, it stood there as though it was proud of itself allowing me to get reasonably close until it decided enough was enough and leapt up to the top of the miniature cascade and crawled under a boulder which was a common flight display for the species. However, it wasn’t the only animal here, in fact there were animals everywhere acting as if they were completely oblivious to our existence from Hermit Crabs fighting over their individual dug out holes in the ground to Fishing Spiders attempting to capture a freshwater shrimp passing by its hunting grounds.

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Nosy Mangabe Giant Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Mantidactylus) sp. aff. grandidieri). © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Hermit Crab within its hole. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Frilled Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) specimen we saw earlier that day. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved
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Frilled Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) specimen © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved

It wasn’t long however, with the dying of last light of the setting sun, till we found a Frilled Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) getting ready to start it’s nocturnal hunt. Waking itself up and cleaning its’ eyes by licking them, the first one of the night we encountered was none other than our friend  we found in the day time and now it was dark, he was sporting an entirely new colouration which we simply couldn’t pick up hours earlier. Not far from it however, was a Boulenger’s Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Gephyromantis) boulengeri) with a fantastic colouration that was rather unlike what I had normally came across in the forests of the Analamazoatra, this was a male specimen measuring roughly 26mm from my measurements, calling out from his platform.

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Spider fishing for freshwater shrimp in a stream. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Boulenger’s Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Gephyromantis) boulengeri) © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Right Reserved.
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The Ventral side of the Boulenger’s Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Gephyromantis) boulengeri) © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Right Reserved.

We ventured on, walking slowly along the pathway, looking just about everywhere for any sign of movement or for a tiniest bit of eye-shine from our head torches. Wasn’t long until a spectacularly coloured and marked Frilled Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) appeared out of nowhere on the trees next to us, attempting to run away from us before we even noticed he was there. It was definitely a male as well, mainly due to the fact his Hemipenis (only one, hence why it wasn’t pleural) was out, when we finally caught up with him! That night, I remember we came across not just two Uroplatus specimens but roughly five, which to me is a stupid amount… I am used to seeing probably that number in the course of a few weeks, so this was like a herpetological paradise.

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Frilled Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) on the hunt. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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A Hemipenis of the Frilled Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Frilled Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

As we neared the end of our walk, I had found several more species of anuran, including another weirdly coloured Nosy Mangabe Giant Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Mantidactylus) sp. aff. grandidieri) and the most vibrant specimens of  Cryptic Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Vatomantis) sp. aff. silvanus).

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Potentially a young Nosy Mangabe Giant Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Mantidactylus) sp. aff. grandidieri) specimen. © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Spotted Digging Frog (Plethodontohyla notosticta) © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Cryptic Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Vatomantis) silvanus) © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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The Dorsal view of the Cryptic Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Vatomantis) silvanus) © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

We finished up the nocturnal hike and went back to the camping area, however as long as the past day had been, I just wanted to get back out there and look around. Eventually, I fell asleep ready for the next day ahead.

To be continued…

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Madagascar 2016 – A comprehensive list of species I have seen.

Hello everyone,

Only recently, I returned (slightly earlier than planned) from my latest adventure to the ancient and most biologically diverse islands on the planet, the island of Madagascar.

For the past few months I have been traveling the eastern and central regions of this most magical of places, sleeping rough in a tent the middle of the rainforest to hiking through some of the most beautiful and richest landscapes I have came across.

Of course, you will be able to find out all about my adventures within my blog which I hope to update as much as I possibly can whilst traying to filter through my photographs and video footage that I capture during my trip. These will more than likely be randomly updated with no set order except with in order of where I was at the dates that I specify.

I promise, you will not be disappointed by your wait for my updates, on my travels I have came across over 65 species of Amphibian, 35 species of Reptile, 22 species of Mammal and countless numbers of Arthropoda/Invertebrates and Plants. Speakin of which, I have decided to add a comprehensive list of what I have seen on here, including the common names which before this, never existed.

Here are a few teaser pictures of things to expect in 2016/2017:

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Baron’s Mantella (Mantella baroni) at the cascade of Maromizaha Experimental Reserve, Madagascar (Analamazoatra region). © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Lance-nosed Chameleon (Calumma gallus) male specimen at Vohimana Experimental Reserve, Madagascar (Analamazoatra region). © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Silver Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (maitsomantis) argenteus) male specimen at Vohimana Experimental Reserve, Madagascar (Analamazoatra region). © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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White-fronted Brown Lemur (Eulemur albifrons) at Nosy Mangabe Reserve Speciale, Madagascar (Antongili Bay). © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Speckled Water Snake (Thamnosophis epistibes) at Mitsinjo Forest Reserve, Madagascar (Analamazoatra region). © 2016 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

Amphibia 
Order: Anura (Frogs & Toads)

Subfamily: Boophinae
Genus: Boophis (Bright-eyed Frogs)
1. Goudot’s Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis goudotii),
2. Guibe’s Brigh-eyed Frog (Boophis guibei),
3. Id’s Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis idae),
4. Flamed Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis pyrrhus),
5. Madagascan Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis madagascariensis),
6. Green Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis viridis),
7. Central Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis rappiodes),
8. Bott’s Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis bottae),
9. Boehme’s Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis boehmei),

Subfamily: Cophylinae
Genus: Anodonthyla (Dual-thumbed Frogs)
10. Black-throated Dual-thumbed Frog (Anodonthyla pollicaris),

Genus: Platypelis (Arboreal Frogs)
11. Barbour’s Arboreal Frog (Platypelis barbouri)
12. Andasibe Arboreal Frog (Platypelis sp. aff. “Andasibe”)
13. Giant Arboreal Frog (Platypelis grandis)
14. Yellow Spotted Arboreal Frog (Platypelis tuberifera)

Genus: Plethodontohyla (Digging Frogs)
15. Spotted Digging Frog (Plethodontohyla notosticta),
16. Mihanika Digging Frog (Plethodontohyla mihanika),

Genus: Stumpffia (Thumbnail Frogs)
17. Thumbnail Frog (Stumpffia sp. “Nosy Mangabe”)i,
18. Thumbnail Frog (Stumpffia sp. “Nosy Mangabe”)ii,
19. Thumbnail Frog (Stumpffia sp. “Andasibe”)
20. Thumbnail Frog (Stumpffia sp. “Vohimana”)

Subfamily: Dyscophinae
Genus: Dyscophus (Tomato Frogs)
21. Antongili Tomato Frog (Dyscophus antongilii),
22. Sambava Tomato Frog (Dyscophus guineti)

Subfamily: Hyperoliinae
Genus: Heterixalus (Reed Frogs)
23. Madagascan Reed Frog (Heterixalus madagascariensis)
24. Spotted Reed Frog (Heterixalus punctatus),
25. Betsileo’s Reed Frog (Heterixalus betsileo)

Subfamily: Laliostominae
Genus: Aglyptodactylus (Canary Frogs)
26. Malagasy Canary Frog (Aglyptodactylus madagascariensis),

Subfamily: Mantellinae
Genus: Bloomersia (Leaping Frogs)
27. Moramanga Leaping Frog (Bloomersia bloomersae),

Genus: Gephyromantis (Forest Frogs)
28. Asper Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Duboimantis) asper)
29. White Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Duboimantis) luteus),
30. Boulenger’s Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Gephyromantis) boulengeri),
31. Sculpted Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Duboimantis) sculpturatus),
32. White-marked Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Duboimantis) leucomaculatus) “Nosy Mangabe”,
33. Webb’s Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Vatomantis) webbi)
34. Cryptic Forest Frog (Gephyromantis (Vatomantis) silvanus)

Genus: Guibemantis (Vakona Frogs)
35. Free Vakona Frog (Guibemantis liber),
36. Beautiful Vakona Frog (Guibemantis pulcher),
37. Torner’s Vakona Frog (Guibemantis torneri),
38. Guibemantis sp. aff. “Andasibe”
39. Guibemantis aff. albolineatus
40. Pulsing Vakona Frog (Guibemantis depressiceps)

Genus: Mantella (Malagasy Poison Frogs)
41. Arboreal Mantella (Mantella laevigata)
42. Beautiful Mantella (Mantella pulchra)
43. Baron’s Mantella (Mantella baroni)
44. Hybrid Mantella (Mantella pulchra x M.baroni) i.
45. Hybrid Mantella (Mantella pulchra x M.baroni) ii.

Genus: Mantidactylus (Stream Frogs)
46. Femoral Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Ochthomantis) femoralis),
47. Betsileo’s Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Brygoomantis) betsileanus),
48. Charlotte’s Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Chonomantis) charlotteae),
49. Grandidier’s Giant Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Mantidactylus) grandidieri),
50. Nosy Mangabe Giant Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Mantidactylus) sp. aff. grandidieri),
51. Cowan’s Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Hylobatrachus) cowani),
52. Zipper’s Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Chonomantis) zipperi),
53. Black Flanked Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Chonomantis) melanopleura),
54. Grey Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Mantidactylus) guttulatus),
55. Mantidactylus (Brygoomantis) sp. aff. betsileanus,
56. Mantidactylus (Hylobatrachus) sp. aff. cowani,
57. (Mantidactylus (Chonomantis) opiparis)
58. Mantidactylus (Brygoomantis) sp. aff. biporus “Maromizaha”
59. Mantidactylus (Brygoomantis) sp. aff. biporus “Pale Form”
60. Mantidactylus (Brygoomantis) sp. aff. biporus “Vohimana”
61. Silver Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (maitsomantis) argenteus)
62. Andrangoloaka Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Chonomantis) aerumnalis)
63. Tricoloured Stream Frog (Mantidactylus (Brygoomantis) sp. aff. tricinctus “Andasibe”)

Genus: Spinomantis (Malagasy Mossy Frogs)
64. Aglave’s Mossy Frog (Spinomantis aglavei),
65. Frilled Mossy Frog (Spinomantis fimbriatus),

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Reptilia
Order: Squamata

Family: Chamaeleonidae
Genus: Brookesia (Leaf Chameleons)
1. Peyrieras’ Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia peyrieras)
2. Browed Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia superciliaris)
3. Thiel’s Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia thieli)

Genus: Calumma (Horned Chameleons)
4. Elephant-eared Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne)
5. Parson’s Chameleon (Calumma parsonii cristifer)
6. Lance-nosed Chameleon (Calumma gallus)
7. Flat-nosed Chameleon (Calumma nasutum)
8. Yellow Striped Chameleon (Calumma gastrotaenia)
9. Deceptive Chameleon (Calumma fallax)

Genus: Furcifer (Panther and Carpet Chameleons)
10. Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) “Nosy Mangabe”
11. Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) “Toamasina”
12. Carpet Chameleon (Furcifer lateralis)

Family: Gerrhosauride
Genus: Zonosaurus (Girdled Lizards)
13. Malagasy Girdled Lizard (Zonosaurus madagascariensis)
14. Brygoo’s Girdled Lizard (Zonosaurus brygooi)

Family: Scincidae
Genus: Trachylepis (Miniature Skinks)
15. Boettger’s Miniature Skink (Trachylepis boettgeri)

Genus: Madascincus (Malagasy Skink)
16. Dark-ribbed Malagasy Skink (Madascincus melanopleura)

Family: Gekkonidae
Genus: Blaesodactylus (Velvet Geckos)
17. Antongili Velvet Gecko (Blaesodactylus aff. antongilensis)

Genus: Ebenavia (Clawless Geckos)
18. Masacrine Clawless Gecko (Ebenavia inunguis)

Genus: Gehyra (Web-toed Geckos)
19. Web-toed Gecko (Gehyra mutilata)

Genus: Hemidactylus (Half-toed Geckos)
20. Trader’s Half-toed Gecko (Hemidactylus mercatorius)

Genus: Paroedura (Ground Geckos)
21. Graceful Ground Gecko (Paroedura gracilis)

Genus: Uroplatus (Leaf-taile Geckos)
22. Frilled Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus)
23. Mossy Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus sikorae)

Genus: Lygodactylus (Dwarf Geckos)
24. Guibe’s Dwarf Gecko (Lygodactylus guibei)
25. Two-lined Dwarf Gecko (Lygodactylus bivittis)

Genus: Phelsuma (Day Geckos)
26. Madagascan Day Gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis)
27. Lined Day Gecko (Phelsuma lineata)
28. Peacock Day Gecko (Phelsuma quadriocellata)

Family: Boidae
Genus: Sanzinia (Tree Boas)
29. Malagasy Tree Boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis madagascariensis)

Family: Colubridae
Genus: Madagascarophis (Malagasy Cat-eyed Snakes)
30. Cunning Cat-eyed Snake (Madagascarophis colubrinus)

Genus: Stenophis (Arboreal Snakes)
31. Banded Arboreal Snake (Stenophis arctifasciatus)

Genus: Pseudoxyrhopus (Brook Snakes)
32. Night Brook Snake (Pseudoxyrhopus heterurus)
33. Three-lined Brook Snake (Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus)

Family: Lamprophiidae
Genus: Thamnosophis (Malagasy Water Snakes)
34. Lateral-lined Water Snake (Thamnosophis lateralis)
35. Speckled Water Snake (Thamnosophis epistibes)

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Mammalia
Order: Primates

Family: Cheirogaleidae
Genus: Microcebus (Mouse Lemurs)
1. Goodman’s Mouse Lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara)
2. Simmon’s Mouse Lemur (Microcebus simmonsi)
3. Macarthur’s Mouse Lemur (Microcebus macarthurii)

Genus: Allocebus (Hairy-eared Mouse Lemur)
4. Hairy-eared Dwarf Lemur (Microcebus trichotis)

Genus: Cheirogaleus (Fat-tailed Lemurs)
5. Greater Fat-tailed Lemur (Cheirogaleus major)
6. Crossley’s Fat-tailed Lemur (Cheirogaleus crossleyi)

Family: Lepilemuridae
Genus: Lepilemur (Sportive Lemurs)
7. Greater Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur mustelinus)

Family: Lemuridae
Genus: Hapalemur (Bamboo Lemurs)
8. Grey Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur griseus griseus)

Genus: Eulemur (True Lemurs)
9. Brown Lemur (Eulemur fulvis)
10. White-fronted Brown Lemur (Eulemur albifrons)
11. Red-bellied Lemur (Eulemur rubriventer)

Genus: Varecia (Ruffed Lemurs)
12. Black & White Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata)

Family: Indriidae
Genus: Avahi (Woolly Lemurs)
13. Eastern Woolly Lemur (Avahi laniger)

Genus: Propithecus (Sifaka)
14. Diademed Sifaka (Propithecus diadema)

Genus: Indri
15. Indri Lemur (Indri indri)

Family: Dubentoniidae
Genus: Daubentonia (Aye-aye)
16. Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)

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Order: Afrosoricida

Family: Tenrecidae
Genus: Hemicentetes (Streaked Tenrec)
17. Lowland Streaked Tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus)

Genus: Setifer (Hedgehog Tenrec)
18. Greater Hedgehog Tenrec (Setifer setosus)

Genus: Tenrec
19. Common Tenrec (Tenrec encaudatus)

Genus: Microgale (Shrew Tenrecs)
20. Dobson’s shrew tenrec (Microgale dobsoni)

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Order: Rodentia

Family: Nesomyidae
Genus: Eliurus (Tufted-tailed Rats)
21. Webb’s Tufted-tailed Rat (Eliurus webbi)

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Order: Carnivora

Family: Eupleridae
Genus: Galidia (Ring-tailed Mongoose)
22. Galidia elega

I hope you are excited, because first up on my blog entry list is my adventures on Nosy Mangabe, perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to in my life time.

Until next time!

Joshua Ralph
MantellaMan

Adventure of a Lifetime – Frogs, Lemurs and More.

Hi everyone,

It has been a while since I have updated the website and made an entry upon it, so here is me making up for it with my announcement that I will be embarking on my next trip to Madagascar, the island of marvels.

It has been an incredibly long time since I started to plan this epic adventure, with months of planning, excitement, nerves and reading (lots of reading). It will be a mixtuure of sleeping in a tent in the middle of a rainforest or on a beach, to staying in little villages and towns along the way.

Oh, I kind of forgot to actually say where abouts I shall be traveling, that would help a lot wouldn’t it… So my course of travel is, when I land at Antananarivo airport, to go straight out into the Perinet region and the town of Andasibe, remaining there for a few days and then to venture all the way North to Nosy Mangabe. We will then work our way back down to Andasibe via Toamasina/Tamatave, which doesnt sound like a long distance but, it really is.

It will truly be a Planes, Trains and Automobile journey, taking all forms of transportation including by boat also!

IF you want to keep up to date with my adventures then please don’t hesitate to like my Facebook Like Page – MantellaMan Conservation – to see my photograph and information updates!

Take care for now, wish me luck because I am gonna need it!

Joshua Ralph
(MantellaMan)

Malagasy Nature Photographs – Bakozetra locality, Torotorofotsy Wetlands Reserve.

Hi Everyone,

Within this photograph blog entry, I will be in the Torotorofotsy Wetlands Reserve, located north of the town of Andasibe.

Continuing the day that I encountered one of Madagascar’s most iconic species of frog, the Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca), my guide Fanoo and I decided to travel slightly further north to a different part of the Torotorofotsy. Bakozetra is like I said, lies in the northern most parts of the Torotorofotsy and west of the Mantadia National Park and is incredibly well known for its particular locality of Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) which exhibit Red flash marks (Markings situated upon the hind legs as warning markings, one of the methods of Aposematism).

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What is a hugely common sight throughout the region of Andasibe (And elsewhere in Madagascar) is the Rainforest being so drastically fragmented. Like you can see here, forested areas are destroy to make room for Rice paddies and other agricultural purposes. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We finally got to the outskirts of the Bakozetra locality within the Torotorofotsy Wetlands, certainly was a thicker form of Rainforest. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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I decided that I really, really needed the toilet (This was the beginning of my gastrointestinal illness) and asked where there was one and well, I kind of made that mistake. Covered in flies and stank to high heaven, I ended up going in the bushes! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We make our way through the mountain passes, leavin the driver and the vehicle behind so he can drive and meet us at the meeting spot that was decided. However all of a sudden, Fanoo shouts out that there is a Madagascan Lateral Water Snake (Thamnosophis lateralis) amongst the leaf litter, can you spot it in the picture? © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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It was a incredibly beautiful specimen of Thamnosophis lateralis, vibrantly coloured on its undderside and had a colourful attitude with it! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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The Thamnosophis lateralis, did try to bite me a few times which I strugged off. Getting these photographs was NOT an easy matter as it would quite quickly. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Malagasy Lateral Water Snake (Thamnosophis lateralis). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Malagasy Lateral Water Snake (Thamnosophis lateralis). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Malagasy Lateral Water Snake (Thamnosophis lateralis). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We eventually started to go down hill and it wasn’t long before I saw my first wild specimen of Orchid from Madagascar and it so happened to be my favourite species, the Malagasy Lemon Orchid (Aerangis citrata). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved
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It was in full bloom with a total of 19 flowers upon a single stem. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Malagasy Lemon Orchid (Aerangis citrata). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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After another 40 minutes and a bit of daring slippery log walking across a deep and fast flowing stream, we reached one of the breeding sites of the Bakozetra Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) populations. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Once at the breeding site, we started to search around for both the species of Mantella and also other species of Anura etc and eventually came across an intriguing species from the Microhylidae family. This was the Malagasy Climbing Rain Frog (Plethodontohyla mihanika). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Malagasy Climbing Rain Frog (Plethodontohyla mihanika), which I sexed as a male specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Malagasy Climbing Rain Frog (Plethodontohyla mihanika). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Malagasy Climbing Rain Frog (Plethodontohyla mihanika). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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It wasn’t long however, till we finally both came across what we were looking for, there was 5 Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) specimens hopping around the area, clearly enjoying the last of the rains. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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This particular Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) specimen, was not only beautiful and brightly coloured but also was host to a small species of leech as you can see. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) “Bakozetra” locality variant. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) “Bakozetra” locality variant. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) “Bakozetra” locality variant. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) “Bakozetra” exhibiting what you can clearly see a brightly coloured Flash Mark upon its hind quarters. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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A closer look at the Venter/Venteral (Underside) of the Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea). Showing both an Aposematic underside and hind quarters whilst performing Thanatosis. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) beginning to perform Thanatosis (Playing Dead) behaviour. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Exhibiting Thanatosis still, I was able to some how turn it onto its venter without it jumping away. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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It wasn’t long before we came across another resident of the breeding pond, this was slightly lighter in colouration. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) “Bakozetra” locality variant. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) “Bakozetra” locality variant. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) “Bakozetra” locality variant. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) “Bakozetra” locality variant. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) “Bakozetra” locality variant. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) “Bakozetra” locality variant. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea) “Bakozetra” locality variant. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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After realising we had spent about 2 hours with the Yellow Mantella specimens, we decided it was getting late and it was time to go back. Along the way, we came across a few very young Malagasy Marbled Rain Frogs (Scaphiophyrne marmorata), another member of the Microhylidae family. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Malagasy Marbled Rain Frog (Scaphiophyrne marmorata). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Along the floor, on the pathway, there were one or two Giant Pill-Millipedes (Sphaeromimus sp.) © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

© 2015 – The photographs and information written is copyrighted by Joshua Ralph of MantellaMan Conservation.

Malagasy Nature Photographs – Maromizaha Reserve Speciale (Day Hike)11/04/15

Hi Everyone,

Within this photograph blog entry, I will be in the Maromizaha Reserve Speciale for an entire day hike through this amazing rainforest valley.

This particular day proved spectacular for a majority of Fauna and Flora species, from Chameleons to Amphibia, especially when it came to finding a very young Short-horned Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne) with an amazing colouration, miniture orchid species and amazing views from vantage points.

The amount of species I saw this day were as follows:

Mammals (Mammalia): 1
Amphibians (Amphibia): 15
Reptiles (Reptilia): 6
Invertebrates (Arthropoda): 9
Birds (Aves): 2

 

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Early start for me on this day, I was up with excitement at 4am! Once it got to the time I had to be ready, it was light and I took some photographs of the slightly wilder parts of Andasibe Town, including these Rice Paddies! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Round this outer part of Andasibe, you can find parts of the Forest that still exist. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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In these Rice Paddies, you can hear the continuious chorus of the Malagasy Canary Frog (Aglyptodactylus madagascariensis), whom use these man-made pools to breed within. They are named the “Canary” Frog due to their ability to turn bright yellow during the mating season! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Everything in the early mornings is just a beautiful mixture of lush greens. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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A fruit I started to eat a lot of during my time in Madagascar, in the form of “Mofo Akondro” (Banana Fritters) and this is grown in someones garden! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved
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My ride arrived and we stopped by the Association Mitsinjo Forest Station Office, to pick up a guest that me and Pierre (Paa) would guide through the Maromizaha Reserve Speciale for the day, this was Serge Pasquasy with his Wife and Brother in-law. However, Serge was still not awake as he had been wandering the roadside until 4am!! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Whilst waiting for Serge to awaken from his slumber, I took some photographs of a Madagascan Wag-tail (Motacilla flaviventris) that had landed a few feet away from me. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We eventually reached one of the far ends of the Maromizaha Reserve, ad we walked for approximately 45 minutes until we got to the Forests edge. We walked through countless fields of crops and turned out that once, not too long ago, all these agricultural lands were all Rainforest… A very sad sight to behold. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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However, we got there, to the edge of the Rainforest of Maromizaha but, we had a lot more walking to go still as it was only 8am by this time. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Maromizaha Reserve Speciale Forest. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Before long, we began to see the early risers of the forest. Including this, still very sleepy, Short-horned Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne) male specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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He wasnt very impressed with being disturbed by us and our persistant photography demands. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Eventually, the sound of running water was brought to our attention, at some parts (inaccessible) large waterfalls! This was the first crossing we made on a narrower part of the stream. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Wasn’t long before we found the Giant Emerald Pill-bugs (Zoosphaerium neptunus) of Maromizaha, which gather in vast numbers along the pathways. To what end, we still do not know entirely. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Unfortunately, you can’t pick them up without them curling into their defensive balls but this was certainly large. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Beautiful, lush rainforest stream, would you believe me when I say we still arent in the actual reserve yet? © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We reached the Multipurpose Center Maromizaha Forest Shelter where Dr Valeria Torti and her team were staying whilst performing important research in the reserve on Lemur species. Just below the steps, there was part of the small stream, where there were hundreds of newly morphed Betsileo Jumping Frogs (Mantidactylus betsileanus). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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This newly morphed Betsileo Jumping Frog (Mantidactylus betsileanus) specimen was no bigger than half the size of my little finger nail! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Above us, whilst searching the undergrowth for more M.betsileanus metamorphs, a Blue Madagascar Coua (Coua caerulea) was flying and perching over head, clearing watching us and waiting for us to leave! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We continued our trek uphil, in search of a small family of Diademed Sifaka (Propithecus diadema), we saw an unusual “plant” on a large tree, it was only until we got closer that we worked out what it really was. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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It was a young Short-horned Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne) specimen, blending into its surroundings amongst hanging plant species. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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A close up of the Short-horned Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne) young. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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© 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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The Trek led further up-hill till we found the family of Diademed Sifaka (Propithecus diadema) which had 5-7 members within it, including young. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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One of the younger Diademed Sifaka (Propithecus diadema) members. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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A small Dypsis hildebrandtii palm specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone mutata mutata) Nest, it was incredibly low down but it was certainly no longer in use. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone mutata mutata) Nest © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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At an abandoned camping station deeping in the forest, on the way to the Maromizaha Waterfalls, we stumbled across a beautiful Madagascan Yellow-striped Water Snake (Thamnosophis lateralis) specimen, however with a blink of an eye (and flick of a camera shutter) it was gone. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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A smaller part of the stream, but a gorgeous sight! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Gorgeous and very distinctive plant in the middle of the pathway. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Almost perfectly clear waters of the Maromizaha waterfalls. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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There are numerous mini-waterfalls along the pathway! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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The cascading waters of Maromizaha, not a huge waterfall but certainly a pretty one! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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A close up of the falls, gorgeous and a lucky shot. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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There is a natural trench just above the actual falls obviously formed over thousands of years. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We had a break and ate our lunch, couldn’t think of a better place to have it, so we all sat just like Pierre (Paa) here is in this photograph. We also searched the area for Baron’s Mantella (Mantella baronii) as it was a known locality, however the timing during the day was wrong and the sun was out with no rainfall. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Camera shot of Serge and his wife, there is one of me he took somewhere!! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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A incredibly lucky find, a Thiel’s Pygmy Chameleon (Brookesia thieli) specimen, comepletely perfect in everyway and a species I was hoping to find dring my trip. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Thiel’s Pygmy Chameleon (Brookesia thieli) © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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60ft later, we came across a Therezien’s Pygmy Chameleon (Brookesia therezieni) female with gorgeous colours! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We made our way back to the abandoned camp site and looked about the ruins and found several Bulbophyllum sp. which were not in bloom. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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An adult Betselio Jumping Frog (Mantidactylus betsleanus) specimen, found quite close to wehere we found the metamorphs. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Not far from the M.betsileanus there was a Vakona Palm and amongst it, a single Beautiful Palm Frog (Guibemantis pulcher) specimen, typically where you would find members of the genus. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Close up of the Beautiful Palm Frog (Guibemantis pulcher). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We eventually made our way back, to head towards the mountain pathway and found a place where various different Orchid species were placed, including Bulbophyllum sp. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Another Orchid species. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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And another… © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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However, the most remarkable and amazing I cam across was this particular species. The Malagasy Thumb-nail Orchid (Angraecum chamaeanthus). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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This truly is miniture, the Angraecum chamaeanthus specimen is bearly an inch or so in length. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Absolutely perfect, al in proportion aswell! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Cyinorchis sp. a species which was really beautiful to find! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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And another beautiful and rather large species of flora, know as the Baron’s Balsam (Impatiens baronii). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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The vine growing Pink Oeonia (Oeonia rosea) orchid, was very unusual. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph = All Rights Reserved.
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Oeonia rosea is simply gorgeous looking, no doubts about it! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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As you can partly see, Oeonia rosea grows on vine-like stems. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We eventually reached the top of the mountain-side, which hosted a marvellous view of the entire valley. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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© 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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All these photographs show the entire length of the forest we traversed that day! Isn’t far but there is lots of winding pathways. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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The beginning of our journey below! © 2015 – Joshua Ralgh – All Rights Reserved.
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Not quite sure how he knew but Paa picked up a fallen bamboo cane and split it to reveal a Scolopendra sp. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph -All Rights Reserved.
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I keep several species of Scolopendra in my personal collection and have worked with them in a few Zoological collections, and even though i can handle them, they seriously sare the daylights out of me! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We trekked further to the place where you go do rock climbing and absail down into a cave system at the top, unfortunately I wasn’t able to do this as it was to late in the day. © 2015 – All Rights Reserved.
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© 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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That small crag is where you have to rock climb. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Wide spread throughout the region, is the many different species of Guava Fruit, including the smaller Strawberry Guava (Psidium cattleyanum) comonly (incorrectly) called the “Chinese Guava” not because it originates from China, but due to being numerous and widespread. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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To mark the end of the journey, the hillsides of the surrounding region… How much of this used to be forest? © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

 

Malagasy Nature Photographs – Mitsinjo Forest Reserve & Parc a Orchidees (Nocturnal Walk) 4

Hi Everyone,

Within this photograph blog entry, I will be in the Mitsinjo Forest Reserve (Analamazaotra Forest Station) and the Parc a Orchidees (Orchid Park) for another night hike (You do see so much at Night, my focus was upon nocturnal walks after a while, going on them every day).

This particular evening was fantastic for finding Chameleon species it seemed, especially when it came to finding young Short-horned Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne), Perinet Striped Chameleon (Calumma gastrotaenia) and Pygmy Leaf-nosed Chameleons (Calumma nasutum).

The amount of species I saw this night were as follows:

Mammals (Mammalia): 1
Amphibians (Amphibia): 10
Reptiles (Reptilia): 5
Invertebrates (Arthropoda): 12
Birds (Aves): 0

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Beautifully coloured Short-horned Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne) hatchling specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Without having to venture to far, we came across a very young Short-horned Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne) specimen, just off the stone steps that lead down to the entrance of the forest. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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It was so small, couldn’t have been very old at all. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

 

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Not far away though, I could hear the sound of a Flamed Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis pyrrhus) calling. Positioned perfectly upon this little collection of leaves. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Once disturbed however, he decided it was time to move, perhaps to a less obvious (to the human eye) position. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph.
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It appeared that it was the time of emergence for the offspring of my species of Chameleon, as we found several if not more Perinet Striped Chameleons (Calumma gastroteania) in single area. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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And another Short-horned Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne) hatchling, found deeper within the forest this time! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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My second Amphibian species for the evening was another I hadn’t encountered before, Boulenger’s Jumping Frog (Gephyromantis boulengeri). Seemed completely unphased by me observing it. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Boulenger’s Jumping Frog (Gephyromantis boulengeri). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Here we go again, another species of Malagasy Arachnid that is unknown. Beautiful and striking colouration. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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A young male Malagasy Common Canary Frog (Aglyptodactylus madagascariensis) specimen making his waythrough the forest, coming from the direction of the Parc a Orchidees lake. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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There happened to be quite a few Aglyptodactylus madagascariensis specimens making their way from the lake, really can’t wait to see them in their breeding colours! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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What I did love, was coming across (upclose this time) one of the smaller species of the Calumma genus, the Pygmy Leaf-nosed Chameleon (Calumma nasutum). Dangling from the smallest of twigs. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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One of the first of many Green Bright-eyed Frogs (Boophis viridis) specimens I came across during my travels. So Vibrant. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Doesn’t matter how many times I came across them, Lowland Streaked Tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) never fail to make me smile! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Lowland Streaked Tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) is such a stunning species. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Lowland Streaked Tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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And this is what happens when they panic whilst you are holding them! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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An amphibian species to through into the mix, another I hadn’t come across until this night, the Betsileo Reed Frog (Heterixalus betsileo). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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There were a few of these Mantid species scattered throughout the Parc a Orchidees, some in quite close proximity to each other. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We may have seen quite a few hatchling Calumma brevicorne specimens however, this was the first we encountered in adult form that evening. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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As you can see, this female Short-horned Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne) was not to happy about being woken up! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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As the evening drew to an end, we unexpectedly stumbled across this absolutely stunning male Christopher’s Parson’s Chameleon (Calumma parsonii cristifer). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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This Calumma parsonii cristifer was the most strikingly coloured I have ever seen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Perfect twin horns upon his snot and a gorgeous colouration. Amazing find to round of a great evening. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

 

Malagasy Nature Photographs – Mitsinjo Forest Reserve & Parc a Orchidees (Night) 2

Hi Everyone,

Welcome back, in this photograph blog entry, I will be in the Mitsinjo Forest Reserve (Analamazaotra Forest Station) and the Parc a Orchidees (Orchid Park) for a night hike (which would have been the first time I entered the forest at night!

I came across a great amount for my first night of hiking in the rainforest and some of these species such as the Lowland Streaked Tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) and the Short-horned Elephant Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne) I was simply dying to see after reading about them and working with them for so long!

The amount of species I saw this night were as follows (Not all I managed to photograph unfortunately, I am not that great at photography!):

Mammals (Mammalia): 3
Amphibians (Amphibia): 7
Reptiles (Reptilia): 4
Invertebrates (Arthropoda): 9

Five minutes into the walk and BAM! we come across a Lowland Streaked Tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) male specimen. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved
Five minutes into the walk and BAM! we come across a Lowland Streaked Tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) male specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved
Lowland Streaked Tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) male specimen. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Lowland Streaked Tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) male specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
These yellow quils are the Tenrecs main method of communication, using what is known as 'Stridulation' where they will rub them together to create a sound that can be hear by other specimens. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
These yellow quils are the Tenrecs main method of communication, using what is known as ‘Stridulation’ where they will rub them together to create a sound that can be hear by other specimens. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Malagasy Golden Orb Weaver (Nephila inaurata madagascariensis) specimen. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Malagasy Golden Orb Weaver (Nephila inaurata madagascariensis) specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Madagascan Tree Boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis) adult specimen. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Madagascan Tree Boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis) adult specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Madagascan Tree Boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis) adult specimen. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Madagascan Tree Boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis) adult specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Perinet Stripped Chameleon (Calumma gastrotaenia) female full of eggs. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Perinet Stripped Chameleon (Calumma gastrotaenia) female full of eggs. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Perinet Stripped Chameleon (Calumma gastrotaenia) female. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Perinet Stripped Chameleon (Calumma gastrotaenia) female. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Perinet Stripped Chameleon (Calumma gastrotaenia) female full of eggs. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Perinet Stripped Chameleon (Calumma gastrotaenia) female full of eggs. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Pygmy Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia superciliaris) female specimen, the male is slightly further up the small tree. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Pygmy Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia superciliaris) female specimen, the male is slightly further up the small tree. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Pygmy Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia superciliaris) male specimen. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Pygmy Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia superciliaris) male specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Grandidier's Giant Frog (Mantidactylus grandidieri) male specimen that we watched calling prior to this photograph. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Grandidier’s Giant Frog (Mantidactylus grandidieri) male specimen that we watched calling prior to this photograph. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Böhmei's Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis boehmei) male specimen, on his calling platform. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Böhmei’s Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis boehmei) male specimen, on his calling platform. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Madagascan Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis madagascariensis) male specimen. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Madagascan Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis madagascariensis) male specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Madagascan Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis madagascariensis) male specimen. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Madagascan Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis madagascariensis) male specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Unknown Butterfly species, a very common occurance with a lot of Madagascar's Arthropoda. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Unknown Butterfly species, a very common occurance with a lot of Madagascar’s Arthropoda. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Hairy-eared Mouse Lemur (Allocebus trichotis) emerging from its nest, a rare sight to see in the wild. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Hairy-eared Mouse Lemur (Allocebus trichotis) emerging from its nest, a rare sight to see in the wild. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Hairy-eared Mouse Lemur (Allocebus trichotis) emerging from its nest, a rare sight to see in the wild. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Hairy-eared Mouse Lemur (Allocebus trichotis) emerging from its nest, a rare sight to see in the wild. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Madagascan Canary Frog (Aglyptodactylus madagascariensis) female specimen. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Madagascan Canary Frog (Aglyptodactylus madagascariensis) female specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Unknown Butterfly species, a little pattern forming isn't there? © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Unknown Butterfly species, a little pattern forming isn’t there? © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Short-horned Elephant Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne) female specimen asleep in a tree (or was). © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Short-horned Elephant Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne) female specimen asleep in a tree (or was). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Short-horned Elephant Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne) female specimen. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Short-horned Elephant Chameleon (Calumma brevicorne) female specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Dead-leaf Moth (Known sp.) amazing camouflage, couldnt see it at first! © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Dead-leaf Moth (Known sp.) amazing camouflage, couldnt see it at first! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Ying & Yang Moth (Unknown sp.) I must admit, the markings are so beautiful and cryptic! © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Ying & Yang Moth (Unknown sp.) I must admit, the markings are so beautiful and cryptic! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Goodman's Mouse Lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara) specimen, I was literally only 4ft away from this. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Goodman’s Mouse Lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara) specimen, I was literally only 4ft away from this. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
Goodman's Mouse Lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara) specimen, I was literally only 4ft away from this. © 2015 - Joshua Ralph - All Rights Reserved.
Goodman’s Mouse Lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara) specimen, I was literally only 4ft away from this. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

Anyway, that’s your lot for tonight, if you are wondering why these entries are so short and are not containing very much information, it is because I will write about these animals properly, within more in-depth blog posts in the future.

Hope you enjoyed these photographs, please give me a like, recommendation or a share!

Joshua Ralph
(MantellaMan)