Team Radespiel has returned from 6 months in Madagascar as of November 2017.
Overall, the first season of the project was very successful and we are all very happy with the results. We captured or sampled many species during our time in Ambanjabe, Ankarafantsika National Park including sifaka, sportive lemurs, and mouse lemurs as well as endemic and invasive rodents.
At Ambanjabe (the “big savannah” in Malagasy) we had no access to water so we had to have water carried in by zebu (ox) cart every day to support our team of nine (scientists, assistants, guides, cooks, security). This was over 300L of water to manage which was quite a logistically difficult task! There was also the constant sun and heat exposure as the hot and wet season approached which meant breaks and lots of water were necessary.
Packing up a camp is no easy feat after living there for six months, but we successfully restored our camp back to a “pristine” forest like it was when we started by carefully collecting all of our trash and traces. Before we left we had a big “Veloma Fety” (Goodbye party) as a thank you to the villagers of Andranohobaka, Maevatanimbary, and Ambirindahy who hosted us at Ambanjabe. No “fety” in Madagasacar is complete without the sacrifice of a zebu so we made sure to bring one as a gift and shared it with all the families in the villages, after taking a few skewers for ourselves!
After the goodbyes in the villages it was back to business as we presented the results of our research to park officials in Ankarafantsika National Park. This is an important step as we need to share the knowledge we gain with those officials who are actively working on conservation within the park.
After the long flight the team is now back in Hannover, Germany busily working in the genetics lab to extract DNA from our samples and begin the next phase of the INFRAGECO project!
While we are grateful to all the people who helped us over the past six months, we are especially thankful to our core staff team of Miarisoa Ramilison, Herinjatovo Rakotondramanana, Jean Bosco Jhonny Kenedy, Ginot Aime, Eva Tefara, Bernadette Tefara, Josee Razafindrakoto, and the mononymous Felix.