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:
01/03/15 – 6.30am to 12.30pm Mitsinjo Breeding Facility, Andasibe – First Time at the Facility.
Being my first proper day in Madagascar, I was ecstatic and with all the excitement I was up ready to go at 6.30am hours earlier than was needed! Devin came to meet me for us to walk together on my first day, so I could get my bearings and know my way around the village and road towards the facility.
I remember walking through the town and noticing every little detail around me, from the smell to the sights that surrounded me but the one obvious thing was that I was the new guy in town. Let’s just say that I learnt the common Malagasy greeting incredibly quickly, I had to say it to everyone, out of politeness but also because I wanted to be friendly! On our way out of the edge of town, on the main road that takes you towards the National Parks, I noticed an extremely well preserved (Almost new-like) building with big capital letters on the sides of it stating “ANDASIBE”. I asked Devin exactly what the place was and why it appeared abandoned when it looked so new, well it turns out I actually knew this building, as a hotel from reading about Sir David Attenborough’s adventures in the 60’s. This was the Andasibe Train Station Hotel, and it had accommodated quite a few celebrities including Gerald Durrell, Prince Phillip and of course Sir David. Devin reminded me that the corner (directly where a restaurant now sits – where I eat most the time) as Sir David described, had rainforest right outside his window with Diadem Sifaka amongst the trees, a disturbing thought considering that the rainforest had disappeared so much since then.
After a 45 minute walk and a struggling uphill climb to the facility, which just proved how unfit I had became, we arrived at the Mitsinjo Breeding Facility, something I was eagerly waiting to see for well over a year. The first thing you notice about the building, once you open the gate, is the vast amount of logos from various organisations across the world that support the project, it truly was an impressive and fantastic sight to see, all except on of the logos (which I will explain later on).
We entered and already I was impressed with the protocols and procedures we had to go through before even entering the facility! Provided for the staff members, volunteers, PhD students and Researchers, are either Foam Crocs or Wellington Boots that are just for use within the facility main building. Your clothes must be clean before you are allowed to enter also, so no patches of mud (Luckily, I fully disinfected my clothes prior to leaving the UK using Virkon and Anigene) just incase a lethal pathogen maybe present upon your person. I was extremely excited and full of anticipation to actually just get in and view the facility and the legendary and highly important wild caught founders of the Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) species.
As I entered finally, straight away I was presented with a vast quantity of Fruit Fly (‘SiSi’ in Malagasy), Spring-tail, Tropical Woodlice, and Crickets cultures, incredibly overwhelming considering the amount I am normally used to. It was impressive, to say the very least!
Then we approached a set of heavy wooden doors, allowing access to the frog research and collection room, which is home to over 800 specimens, of 8 different species within the Conservation and Husbandry Research programmes. The obvious and main focus of the facility though is the famous and entirely beautiful Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) specimens, classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. However, what makes these particular specimens so important is not as well known of to the outside world, which goes back to one of the logos upon the wall of supporters. The wild caught founders were once found in the Ambatovy locality within the North-western part of the Torotorofotsy Wetland reserve, however a few years previous, it was discovered that this particular area had a vast amount of Nickel within it. So the Ambatovy Nickel Mining Company got permission to destroy the habitats as long as they contributed and removed the specimens of Mantella aurantiaca from the remaining four ponds and give them to Association Mitsinjo.
Just like that, the Ambatovy locality was wiped out and declared extinct in the wild (hopefully this may make you think about where the nickel in some of your purchases comes from), these beautiful and remarkable specimens were the last of their kind from the area they should be within.
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!):
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!
So, what interests people the most about my trips are not only my experiences, but also and most obviously… My photographs! Which, to be honest I entirely agree with because it’s great to simply see these species where they belong.
In this first photograph blog entry, I will be in the Mitsinjo Forest Reserve (Analamazaotra Forest Station) and the Parc a Orchidees (Orchid Park). I spent a lot of time here, which is a huge understatement thats for sure and I loved it! The majority of my time here (on hikes) was spent at night and I cannot deny that it was truly amazing, having been on well over 12 Night Hikes and I saw a vast quantity of fauna and flora it was unreal. Here is a list of how many species I saw within the time period I was there:
It is Located just across the main road (leading to Andasibe) from the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, which is situated near to the Analamazaotra river. It is composed of a little over 700 ha (2.7 miles) of rainforest and an abandoned timber plantation that is being currently restored to native forest by Association Mitsinjo (Malagasy for “To look ahead to provide for the future”). Known primarily as the best place in Madagascar to view the Indri, it is home to at least 12 other species of lemur such as the Goodman’s Mouse Lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara) and the Eastern Woolly Lemur (Avahi laniger) and is highly popular for Herpetologists for the high diversity of Reptilia, Amphibia and Arthropoda species with vast numbers readily observed (Depending on season).
It is also home to the Mitsinjo Amphibian Conservation Facility or Amphibian Survival Assurance Center of Andasibe (ASACA) and the brand new Education centre which will be open to Schools and to the public who wish to see the hard work going into conserving the rainforests in the surrounding area. Personally, as I helped at the facility during my time here, I found the facility to be outstanding and in all honesty was highly impressed by the work that Devin Edmonds and his team are doing to conserve many species of Amphibia, including the critically endangered Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) one of Madagascar’s most iconic species.
The current wards for the facility include a vast quanitity of not just amphibians (where over 500 specimens reside) but also the very food that is provided for them. All the dietary items are foudn from the forests themselves as starter colonies and are maintained by all the team who take turns in looking after it all. They are entirely self sufficient in this sense, which personally to me makes me wonder why this practice is not performed in Zoological collections in the same or similar manner.
Being a huge part of the Analamazoatra Forest Station and the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (Maintained by both reserves) the Parc a Orchidees is a small part of the Mitsinjo Forest and is home to not only animals, but a wide range of species of Orchid (obviously) that are hugely diverse with some measuring as little as an inch long with flowers smaller still. The centre of this area is a small lake/pond which is filled with the sound of Mantidactylus, Aglyptodactylus and other species of Amphibia there, this is definitely even more so when it comes to the breeding season.
Anyway, I believe it’s time to show off some photographs from my Day Hikes into the Mitsinjo Forest and Orchid Park!
Anyway, This is the end of the first photo-blog entry for my site, please share and show as many people as you can the amazing nature that is to be found upo the Island of Marvels.
Until next time folks!
Raising awareness of conservation efforts and issues in Madagascar.