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Published: March 2nd 2018
Monday 26 February – Mitsinjo Park near Andasibe-Mantadia (Perinet Park)
We woke to a thick fog which cleared by 8.00am as we drove towards Mitsinjo Park near Andasibe-Mantadia. The weather has been moderately hot and humid during the day and coolish at night but not cold enough for a fleece. We had dodged the rain in Tana.
NB: for those of you who want all the creature comfort of 4-5 star services for a holiday, I would suggest you don’t come to Madagascar. Our bed was even harder than the ones in Japan but no problems sleeping. Shower was cold, but they have fixed it. Our room was very clean in Antsirabe. Madagascans are very friendly and keen to help. As tourism is growing in popularity, facilities will only improve with time. Wifi and other technology is great in cities but in the rural areas it is either not available or it ‘drops-out’ frequently. Some ATMs are broken also.
After meeting the local guide (his fee was Ar 60,000 for both of us = $25 AUD plus Park Fees), we started our 4 hour walk around thick tropical rain forest. Passing
well camouflaged frogs, butterflies and the smallest gecko in Madagascar, walking on narrow, spongy paths, we suddenly heard and spotted the largest lemur in Madagascar, the Indri Lemur.
These critically endangered lemurs are large, teddy bear-like, black and white animals with stumpy tails. They live in family groups and are very territorial. To warn other families away from ‘their patch’, they have the loudest, piercing call. We were observing one family and all of a sudden, they started warning another family. We nearly …………. Once they finished their calls, we heard in a distance another family of Indri. They can tell how far the other’s territory extends.
Listening to the piercing yet melancholy cry of the Indri in the morning is an evocative sound and for those who are prepared to follow them through the thick rainforest, the reward is often a close-up view of these beautiful creatures.
Our very knowledgeable guide said the lemur are very intelligent animals.
There were several families we observed over the 4 hours. One family had 2 young ones of different ages. The male and female mate for
life and live from 25-40 years.
Our guide all of a sudden dived into the bush and came out with a green snake. He told us its real name, but I don’t remember it!! (sorry Paul). No snakes in Madagascar are venomous. Our guide was fascinated to learn that it is safe to walk through our Australian bush, even though we have so many venomous snakes. We explained to him how our snakes keep out of our way – unless we step on them!
Mitsinjo Park as part of the Andasibe-Mantadia Park system has been protected since 1960 and the government and 2 NGOs work in the Park. Poaching of plants remains a problem as near by villagers continue to cut down vegetation for building material.
Madagascar is in a critical position regarding animal habitat and unfortunately the present government is only marginally better than previous corrupt, anti-environment governments. They have however, given more money for more rangers who patrol some of the National Parks. Unfortunately, last year, 2 rangers were killed by villagers as the rangers tried to stop them from taking vegetation.
There is an agreement
in place for the government to increase protected areas to over 60,000 km2
or 10 percent of Madagascar's land surface.
We saw a small nursery for rehabilitation purposes. There was one massive Pinus radiata which our guide said was too large to fell. The park rangers move through the park to remove weed, including the pine and the very troublesome Australian eucalypts. Villages plant 100s of eucalypts which they use to produce charcoal for their fires and to sell.
We drove out of the park and stopped at a near by restaurant for a very average meal. They had wifi though, so we were able to quickly down load emails and facebook. The meals were costing between $3-10 aud in Madagascar.
Before we returned to our hotel (still the only guests) we made arrangements with our local guide, to do a night time walk in the Park, to try and spot nocturnal lemurs. For Ar 50,000 for both of us, we were keen to go.
After a relaxing afternoon, we left with Rivo at 6.30pm to meet up with our local guide for the night walk. As the
cook did not stay at work, we could not have dinner at our hotel so on the way we put our order in for dinner at the same restaurant where we had lunch.
Our local guide was waiting for us. He was very experienced because in the first 10 minutes I had photos of ginger flowers, stick insect, and a white frog, including a movie of the frog croaking. He was such a small frog with an extremely loud croak.
Thirty minutes later, he spotted red eyed in the distance. We scurried over towards then with torches in hand. About head height, way into the bushes, our guide stopped us and shone his torch onto 2 big, round, black eyes of a Madam Berthes Mouse Lemur, the smallest lemur in the world. Wow, what a find. He just sat there as I clicked away with my camera.
Back onto the road, we walked for another 15 minutes, spotting more insects. Our guide then spotted more red eyes in the distance. There were about 4 woolly lemurs but too far away to photograph.
We also saw a baby Chameleon
just before Rivo picked us up.
He took us back to the restaurant so that we could have dinner before driving us back to our hotel. So far, we had been thrilled with what we had seen and experienced in Madagascar.
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