What a whirlwind of a first week!

A few days after arriving in Madagascar, I found out that I would spend my entire three months here working with lemurs, rather than spending some time participating in reforestation projects like I’d initially thought. I’ll be working with black and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata) for the first five weeks, followed by five weeks with greater bamboo lemurs (Prolemur simus).

I’ve spent seven days in the field so far.

One of my guides, Marolahy, and I watching lemurs

I won’t lie, the work is completely grueling. We spend the day tracking small populations of Varecia at two different field sites called Sangasanga and Vatovavy. We take observations on each lemur for two hour time intervals, which means wherever the lemur goes, my guides and I go too.

My two guides in Vatovavy, Edgard and Marolahy.
The volunteer who trained me and the group of guides at Sangasanga

Vatovavy in particular has extremely dense forest, where we have to run, jump and climb through a tangle of vines, leaves and plants. I’ve fallen over countless times, cut open my hands, twisted my knee, been bitten by a variety of insects and stung by a wasp, but despite this I am absolutely loving it.

The views from Vatovavy are stunning
The peak of Vatovavy

Varecia are adorable little creatures. They have tiny little black faces surrounded by fluffy white fur. They love to sprawl out over tree branches and sunbathe, or hang by their tails to feed on Ravinala fruits. Although they spend a lot of the morning and evening napping, they can move extremely fast through the canopy above our heads.

Just hanging out
I see you watching me watching you
Varecia resting among Ravinalla flowers

Populations have decreased ~80% in the last 20 years, earning them critically endangered status. MBP’s work is crucial to their conservation in this area and it’s great to know that the research I’m a part of will help to keep these guys around in the future.

Beautiful views in every direction
Me on my first day exploring Kianjavato