Salama, I’m Nina! I have just completed my first expedition as a volunteer research assistant on Andrea’s Varecia project. Over the next 7 or 8 months I’ll be sharing an insight into the life of a new field primatologist.
This first month has been a whirlwind of excitement and exhaustion. After numerous delays getting to both Madagascar (due to visa applications) and Ranomafana (due to Cyclone Ava), my first expedition finally began! It all started with the hike to Mangevo Bushcamp situated in the heart of the primary rainforest of Ranomafana National Park. We climbed three major peaks, waded through four rice paddy expanses, crossed four rivers and countless streams via bridges consisting of thin wooden poles propped on the banks. It was a tough hike, but really interesting to see the transition from town to rice-growing villages to tavy clearings and finally to rainforest.
I’m still in awe of the techs and local guides here, they’re so tough and hardworking, they make everything look so effortless. In reality, the terrain is steep and the work is hard – but also amazing! To spend my days studying lemurs in their natural habitat is something of a dream come true for me. Andrea has also given me the opportunity to start a new, pilot study on foraging and nutritional ecology – something never before studied in this species. So far, I have been collecting continuous foraging data on collared individuals as well as plant samples from all the species eaten throughout the month, ready to process for nutritional testing later on. Pretty cool stuff.
But more about my project later…for now here are some photos of Radio Red, one of our collared individuals, I took through my binos; one good one and one more representative of what I can see half of the time…a lemur butt! Mandra pihaona (see you soon)!
For more pictures from my time in the field, check out my Instagram @ninabeeby