Malagasy Nature Photographs – Menalamba locality, Torotorofotsy Wetlands Reserve.

Hi Everyone,

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

Being one of my first days in Madagascar and with the breeding season of a few species I so desperately wanted to see nearly over, Devin Edmonds (Director of the ASACA facility in Andasibe) and myself made an attempted to find a species that pretty much kicked started our passion at such a young age for us both.  This was of course Madagascar’s most iconic species of Amphibian, the critically endangered Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca).

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A Primary School at the Menalambe village in the Torotorofotsy Wetlands Reserve, was very happy and surprised to see the regions (and country’s) most iconic Amphibian species painted on the school sign. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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A view we could see from the far side of the village, showing the expansive nature of the Torotorofotsy Wetlands, or what it would have been like before paddy after paddy of Rice fields were planted. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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After leaving the car, we made our way along the old rail tracks which were used to transport Lumber from the edges of the reserve. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Ahead of us was Rennie, a local guide for the Torotorofotsy region. Fantastic guide and I got on with him incredibly well regardless of the language barrier! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Eventually, after approxiamtely 45 minutes of walking, we got to the first sign telling us that we reached the actual Menalamba locality. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Right next to that sign, well as you can see, was a wooden bridge that was made. Regardless of appearances, it was very sturdy… If your sensse of balance is okay! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Almost instantly, we went straight to hunting for the critically endangered species, I made sure not to get my hopes up however as I knew it was the end of the breeding season and it was right about the time the animals left their breeding grounds. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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About an hour into our search, we still had no luck, but we moved “Mora Mora” or translated from Malagasy “Slowly Slowly” making sure we turned over every leaf! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Indiana Jones, eat your heart out (It wasnt intentional to look like him!). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We did come across a breeding pond for the Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) specimens in the area, and within it we found… © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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… Some Tadpoles!! A little game of “Spot the Tadpoles” is in order, can you see them? © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We had almost given up and after two and a half hours, me and Devin had decided that instead of carrying at this particular area that we should move on to the next one… Until, we heard shouting from Rennie and Fano telling us to come quickly as they have found a specimen! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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And that was it, I had finally seen the species of Amphibian that started my entire career and passion from such a young age. It was so amazing, that I almost cried to myself and was utterly speechless. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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I avoided all movement, for the next 20 minutes, as I was so worried about hurting the specimen. However, it turns out that this little male wasn’t alone… There was a female with him too! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Gorgeous colouration on both the male (pictured) and female, a deep reddish orange colour that is quite typical of the wild specimens of the species. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Another photograph of the male Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) male specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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A wild pairing of Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) at the ‘Menalamba’ locality within the Torotorofotsy Wetland Reserve. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) male specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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The Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) pair again. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) pair, Male (Top Left) and Female (Bottom Right). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) female specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) female specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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She decided to launch herself at my camera and got slightly dirty, hence the bits of leaf litter covering her. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) female covered in dirt, however I quite like the more natural appearance. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) female specimen. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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I was entirely captivated by them, that I just watched them and observed them for the entire time. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Devin Edmonds (Left), Joshua Ralph (Middle) and Rennie (Right). © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We decided to move on to the next locality, as you can see, Devin was lucky enough to get mobile signal for his snapchats! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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So, we decided to move on and try our luck at another locality, one that was particularly well known to experts to be covered in Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) during breeding season. (I will not be listing the name of the locality) © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We firstly took the pathways, whilst Devin got out his GPS and tried to find his book marked locations for the breeding ponds. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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It wasn’t long however, until we found evidence that the local teams that were meant to be protecting the site, hadn’t been doing their jobs with signs of felling that was recently performed! © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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Not only that, but we also found a destroyed Golden Mantella breeding pond, that had been mined for Gold. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We walked along a stream, but heard no mating calls from the males and potentially there were no specimens left and had left to hide away until the next breeding season. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.
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We did find this gorgeous Arachnida specimen in the pathway, amazing morphology but like most Arthropoda it is yet to be described. © 2015 – Joshua Ralph – All Rights Reserved.

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

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