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  • Nina Beeby

Nina’s ‘notes from the field’: July

Beeby’s Bootcamp, or Many Falls and other Close Calls

After spending three entire weeks at CVB with my foot infection, then a 5-day vomiting and diarrhoea bug, then a cold/flu virus, I FINALLY got to go back to the forest. Despite suffering through so many ailments it was actually a really fun time at CVB, involving Hurricane Miranda episodes 1 and 2, Study Abroad and BeLocal parties, and Independence Day celebrations. I made some incredibly close friends incredibly quickly including Mariah, Mandy and Leila, and together we are now known as the “Witches of CVB” who reside in “The Roost”. It’s a strange part of life at CVB, meeting so many new people all the time, forming close bonds very quickly, but far too soon having to say goodbye as researchers come and go. But we had some very exciting arrivals this month as our new project assistants finally joined us in Madagascar!

Trekking through the rice paddies of Mangevo Village. After so much rain it was very treacherous, and Pierre took to carrying a log to use as a bridge to help us vazaha to cross the worst parts…

This was my last expedition collecting data for my project, but I am very lucky (and very spoiled by Andrea) that I got to spend this time training my own two assistants to take over data collection for my project until December. They all learned very quickly and managed to keep up with and see the animals well after just a few days – I also quickly learned how to actually teach people to collect feeding behaviour data, as previously I had no idea how difficult it may or may not be. The techs found it very entertaining watching me trying to teach, with my little ducklings following me around the forest, mirroring my every move. Nicolette and her Malagasy student Mathieu were also with us this month – collecting data for their own projects – it was great to have them with us, Nicolette was an unbelievably fast learner, I wish we could have her as a project assistant too…now I’m getting greedy.

Something the newbies didn’t learn quite so quickly (which I didn’t either and am still working on) is how to move around the forest without spending the majority of your time in a heap on the ground. This past three weeks I have witnessed some spectacular falls; one that stands out in my memory is Giulia falling down, grabbing a rotten tree fern, pulling it completely out of the ground and subsequently breaking the trunk over her head, before continuing to slide down the slope on her knees – then five minutes later Jean Guy doing almost the exact same thing! Another personal favourite was Lotte struggling to grasp moving around the steep upslope bamboo-grassy areas, and whilst chasing a sprinting lemur was non-stop falling to the ground every couple of metres…I ended up laughing so much I fell down myself! They are great sports though, and always pick themselves back up laughing; it’s all part of the fun of Mangevo.

It made a really nice change having some other girls with me for the first time in camp. During many hours spent sitting in the pouring rain and freezing cold underneath barely visible sleeping lemurs, we became a close little group, and so naturally came up with many names for ourselves including; Beeby’s Bootcamp, Gorillas in the Mist, and Andrea’s Angels.

Class of 2018: all graduated Beeby’s Bootcamp with flying colours. Here they are with Jean Guy, Pierre and Velomaro; together forming the dream Varecia team.

I’ll be going back to Mangevo one last time in August, joining Andrea and the rest of the darting team for this year’s darting season. We’re hoping to catch and check-up on all 17 collared individuals, plus collar another ~15 individuals to add to our focal animals! For now, I am going to take some time to go on holiday and visit some other places in Madagascar (preferably anywhere that it’s not raining). Keep your eyes peeled for updates from our new team members when Team 2 are back from the field…

Also check out our new Instagram page @hunterPMEL for more updates!

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