This week the bosses back in Canada and the US had the Varecia team doing something different to the usual lemur follows and surveys. Our challenge was simple in theory – GPS mark the border of the Sangasanga forest fragment. It turned out to be a lot harder in practice.
Usually, we have 2 Varecia guides at each of the field sites, but since we were testing out new methods, we had the whole team together. Edgard, Marolahy, Cressant and Dakeley rarely get to work together so I think they enjoyed it a lot. The highlight for me was definitely the detour we took to the peak of Sangasanga. From up there, we could see rolling hills of jungle, rice paddies, villages and fields for miles. There’s an enormous cross up there, which the religious communities here trek up to once a year.
After the outline of Sangasanga was complete, the guides went off to another forest fragment called Tsitola, while I returned to team simus. We followed a young male lemur who has only recently been collared, so is still getting used to the idea of strange humans following him around – there was a lot of chasing involved.
We had our first experience of real rain on Thursday, it poured down the whole day. Just walking between the tent sites and the toilet was a treacherous journey, and got your shoes and socks soaked through. The roofs were leaking and there was slippery mud everywhere. All I can say is I’m glad we’re not here in the rainy season!
Next week, the schedule is looking a bit more normal, so for my last week on the Varecia team I should be spending a lot of time monitoring individuals which I’m really looking forward to.