A Typical Day in the Field

  Our work days typically started around sunrise. Narina's rooster would start crowing an hour or so before sunrise, greeting our cooks as they arrived at camp to make our breakfast. After breakfast we'd have a short meeting to sign up for jobs for the day. There were morning and afternoon trap checks on two trails; Jardin Botanique A (JBA) was approximately six miles and sandy where JBB was about half the length but involved more climbing. Other tasks included radio tracking collared fossa and wild cats, and data analysis on computers in camp. We also had a job called "domestics"; this involved taking measurements, blood and fecal samples of local cats to see how they might be breeding with wild cats.



Chicken in trap. Note sticks on left to keep chicken in back of trap.


Here I am with my chicken Fossabait.


Every morning on trap check we had to give the chickens dry rice and fresh water.


On our third day in camp, we caught a new fossa! Here's our PI Luke holding him, safely sedated.


Here's a close-up of the fossa, on the dining room table to be measured and have blood samples taken. He looks like a cat, but is actually more closely related to the mongoose.


Luke named this guy Lucius (there was a Shakespeare theme going this year). Here he's getting his head measured with calipers. Lucius turned out to be a juvenile.


Fossas eat lemurs and can follow them, leaping from tree to tree. Check out the pads on his feet!


After recovering in the black bag, the fossa are released at the point of capture. Here's Luke about to release Lucius, who ran like greased lightning out of the cage.


Here's a domestics team working with a dog in Andranofasika. After sedation, the dog was weighed, treated for fleas and vaccinated for rabies.


Not all the traps were cages- here's Luke's assistant Shaun loading a digital camera trap, with a motion sensor to take a photo whenever an animal passed by.


Adult fossa and wild cats that were captured were fitted with radio collars so they could be tracked to observe their territory and behavior patterns. Here Shaun and volunteer Paul attempt to find a collared animal.


Some days we needed a break from hiking and trap checks. There was plenty of work to do in camp - here I am working on a spreadsheet with Luke, to analyze data taken on fossa and other carnivores.