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Journey to Madagascar 2009 

October 15, 2009

Ranomafana National Park

Have a banana? Seen a Golden Bamboo Lemur anywhere around here?


Our mission today was to explore Ranomafana National Park which surrounds Setam Lodge where we are staying. To say we would explore the park is a first class exaggeration since the park covers about 100,000 acres and is anything but flat. It would take a very long time, perhaps forever, to fully explore it.

With spirits high, and feet covered with double socks to ward off leeches, we set off for what would turn out to be the most rugged walking of all of our rain forest visits – about four hours of tramping up and down, on trail and off, all in search of elusive lemurs, birds, spiders, plants, and anything else that is living. To name some really top hits, we saw the golden bamboo lemur, the great bamboo lemur, and the elusive lesser cuckoo. How’s that for a morning stroll?!

We also encountered several other groups of living creatures of the human sort, including a large flock of Spaniards several of whom looked dressed more for an afternoon at the Prado than a struggle up and down and through Ranomafana in search of the elusive golden bamboo lemur. Perhaps they took a wrong turn in Madrid.

This morning we had delayed breakfast until 7AM in light of our long drive yesterday. Only afterwards did we set off for the park. The late start was a good idea. By the time we stopped for lunch at the Belle Vista lookout spot, we all were eager for some calories even if they came in the form of a few slices of chicken on a baguette and not much else. If you are in the middle of the forest and hungry, you don’t ask for the menu.

We succeeded in spotting a number of rare birds and several lemurs, including the rare golden bamboo lemur and the great bamboo lemur. It was the discovery of the golden bamboo lemur that catalyzed the designation of the Ranomafana area as a national park in about 1992, so a lot is riding on this lemur’s happiness and proliferation. The one we saw today looked happy, I am pleased to report.

After lunch and a bit more tramping around, we returned to the lodge for Cokes, which being sugar water come in handy when a quick boost of energy is what the system needs. The guys then went off to explore the local village and another waterfall. We checked out the waterfall first. Not one of the greats but worth a stop. Then as we were about to have a walk around the village, which I was looking forward to for its photo opportunities, the skies let loose with a fully rainforest certified cloudburst. So much for exploring the village. The village disappeared.

We gave up exploring and went back to the lodge to do housekeeping chores, which included getting cleaned up after the morning’s tramping about. We then discovered that the storm had knocked out the power, which fortunately came back in a couple of hours. As I have mentioned before, I like electrons. They may be small, but they sure pack a punch. The return of electrons after a storm is always cause for rejoicing. As I type, a fully electrified evening is settling on the kingdom. Dinner is in 25 minutes. Life is fine.

Filed under: Uncategorized — greg @ 12:31 pm

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The Chief Penguin


Greg Farrington

Greg Farrington, Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences, is visiting the island of Madagascar. He is joined by his wife, and Academy researchers, who are surveying and assessing this biodiversity hotspot.

Visit the Farringtons' personal blog, Madagascar Adventure, for in-depth details of this Academy expedition.

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