On the 14th June, Team Radespiel set off to the village of Mariarano to conduct the next block of field work again in collaboration with the British organization Operation Wallacea – short OpWall. The OpWall camp is very different to our “normal” field situation. In the peak period we have been living in a vast city of tents with more than a hundred inhabitants. Like last year, we had two very dedicated dissertation students helping us with the work.
After having had difficulties in 2017 to access forest patches that were scattered in the large rice field area west to the village, we already expected to have very tough working conditions this year. The expectations became reality. Impossible to use our normal hiking boots, we went through mud and water barefoot or in simple slippers for hours and hours every day.
In the end, the effort payed off. We found and studied highly anthropogenically influenced patches of forest with a surprisingly rich lemur fauna. According to the information of our local guides, these patches of vegetation just survived, because they are enclosing certain sites sacred for the local community – very interesting spots!
Gray Mouse Lemurs (Microcebus murinus), Golden-brown Mouse Lemurs (M. ravelobensis), several groups of Coquerel´s Sifakas (Propithecus coquereli), Common Brown Lemurs (Eulemur fulvus) and even one individual of the critically endangered Mongoose Lemur (Eulemur mongoz) could be observed. Although very abundant in the surrounding continuous forest, Milne-Edwards’s Sportive Lemurs (Lepilemur edwardsi) and Western Woolly Lemurs (Avahi occidentalis) have not been found during our nocturnal surveys in the fragments.
At the end of this work phase we could again obtain a good sample of this area. Almost 120 different mouse lemurs went in our traps and could be measured, sampled and examined.
All Photos: © Frederik Kiene