My Trip to Madagascar

Summer 2001

 Earthwatch: "Carnivores of Madagascar"

or

"Of Leaping Lemurs and Lariam* Dreams"

 

*A commonly used antimalarial medication, notorious for unpleasant side-effects like panic attacks and nightmares. Lariam dreams were the main topic of conversation at breakfast. Although many users suffer no ill effects, I highly recommend a newer alternative, Malarone.

 

 This summer I traveled to Madagascar with a group called Earthwatch. I joined a team led by Luke Dollar, a graduate student at Columbia University. We camped and worked for almost two weeks at the Ampijeroa Research Station at Ankarafantsika Reserve, in the dry deciduous forest of western Madagascar.

The primary purpose of our expedition was to study an animal called a fossa. The elusive fossa looks like a small puma, but is actually more closely related to the mongoose than to cats. Weighing in at 15-20 pounds, the fossa feeds on lemurs and is Madagascar's largest carnivore.

Photo: Luke Dollar

To learn more about the fossa, we set traps to catch it so it could be measured, weighed, and fitted with a radio collar for tracking. We used radio equipment to monitor the location and activity of several previously collared fossa, and we collected scat and conducted surveys of forest fauna to learn more about the fossa's diet.

 
   

I learned about the fossa, but I also learned much more - about Malagasy people and their culture, about field research, and about conservation in Madagascar. In this web page I'd like to share some of what I discovered. All photos were taken by me, except as noted, and most will be enlarged if you click on them. Tonga Soa! (Welcome!)

Background on Madagascar

 Ampijeroa and neighboring communities

 A typical day in the field

 Avotra the crowned sifaka

 Reflections

and thanks

 Links and

Bibliography