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.
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