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  • Nina Beeby

Nina’s ‘notes from the field’: June

“Queen of Mangevo”

This month has been a bit of a weird one for me. I hiked out as usual with the whole team, ready for another three weeks in the forest. I got a bad blister on the hike out, but wasn’t too concerned, and started my usual days of focal follows. However, after three days my foot became incredibly painful and I then realized it was infected…my toe was hugely swollen and red and sticky… The CVB staff were quick to sort me out and sent up antibiotics with a porter, so I spent five days sitting in camp waiting for it to heal. Days usually fly by in the forest but sitting around camp alone for almost a week felt like such a long time! Unfortunately, after five days on antibiotics the infection was yet to show any signs of healing, so at the start of week two I had to get portered back to CVB. And no, you did not just read that wrong, I got portered back. I had to hobble down to Mangevo village with my techs and two walking sticks, before arriving at the village where my ‘throne’ awaited. Six porters took it in turns to carry me in a wooden contraption; a raft hanging from a carrying pole, complete with a twine seatbelt to stop me falling out the sides. This was simultaneously one of the funniest and most embarrassing moments of my life to date…

After that 6-hour ordeal (surprisingly quick as the porters were practically running – their strength is unbelievable!) I finally made it to the canoe across the last river and got into the car to head back to CVB. Upon arrival back, everyone had already heard about the ordeal, and Franck and Tharcisse named me “Queen of Mangevo” – what an honor! A week later, my foot was finally clear of infection and mostly healed, but then a second disaster struck as I caught sick bug from the study abroad students – cue five days of vomiting and diarrhea… So unfortunately, I couldn’t go back out into the field this expedition at all, and so wasn’t able to collect any plant samples or feeding behavior data for my project for this rotation. A real shame, but that’s the nature of field work, these things sometimes happen. Not a total disaster, as the technicians continued their work for the full three weeks and collected our behavior and ranging data as well as fecal samples. I was glad to see them again after two weeks apart!

Another sad note this month as this was the last expedition for Felix, the Malagasy student who has been working with us since January. He had a bittersweet last trip to Mangevo, enjoying the work but feeling sad to leave (both the people and lemurs). As of next week, it will be very different at camp; just as Felix has left, our new troops have arrived! Nicolette and Mathieu will be joining us for one month before heading to Kianjavato for the second part of their study, and Noro, Giulia, Lotte and Rita will be joining the Varecia project for the next 6 months. Keep your eyes peeled for a post from the new assistants soon! Meanwhile, here they all are adventuring in the forest, looking like they’re about to drop an album…

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