Saturday, 22 September 2007

Lemur-Spotting


Now, I know I'm here to work... but I had to see some Lemurs... I've heard so much about them and my colleague Peter Koppen has been raving about them - I just had to find out what's so special about these little buggers. Listen to his report (in German) about the Lemur in Antsirabe.

Well, on the way back from Mananjary to Tana we drove through Ranomafana. The National Parc of Ranomafana is one of Madagascar's most popular parks, excellent for forest walks and lemur-spotting (sic Lonely Planet), so we really had to do a stop-over here.

Pretty hard core and determined to get a glimpse of Madagascar's best-known mammals we first bought some plastic wraps at the local market, because it was pouring down and going for a hike in the rain forest with an umbrella did sound a bit unrealistic... so here we are with our guide Louis:


The National Parc of Ranomafana consists of 40,000 hectares of cloud forest, spread out over rolling hills and punctuated by small idyllic streams that plummet down through the dense vegetation to the rushing Namorona river.
The park was set up in 1986 to protect two species of rare lemur - the golden bamboo lemur and the greater bamboo lemur.

Today, we were told, you can spot six different species of lemur in this park -- we saw two, but please don't ask me which ones. I just know we DIDN'T see the golden type.



We also saw this -- any idea what that could be? I always introduce a little quiz at some stage... but I think no one will guess that one.


It's a "Genus Brookesia" or more commonly known as Leaf Chameleon. Aptly named, leaf chameleons resemble a dead leaf in colour and size - even their short tail looks like a stalk. Leaf chameleons rely on subtle shades of brown, buff and ochre to work as camouflage. Some 24 species of the Brookesia genus are known; all catch insects with a sticky, elastic tongue, but they haunt on the forest floor and only climb above the ground to sleep at night. Now, you know!

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