The joy of the jungle II

So, with a big backpack on my back and twelve porters in front of me we walk into the jungle. We put up the camp as soon as we arrive; tents, tarps that will protect the tents from the rain and the kitchen. We will stay here for 6 days.

The next morning I wake up at 6:00, take my Malagasy breakfast (rice) and prepare myself for the day. That means, putting my leach socks on, my boots, taking my notebook, sample bags and binoculars and at last some litchis as snack. Jurian ready, Jocelyn ready, let’s go! (Andaho!). We start with a mountain, uphill, temperature of 26 degrees, air humidity 70%.The vegetation is amazing. Big lianas that cover trees, lots of ferns and everything so green! We continue walking for an hour or so, uphill, downhill, uphill and will not stop till we find a group of Eulemur rubriventer or E. rufifrons.  Unfortunately even on the top of mountains, the horizon is always covered by trees. I’m questioning myself, are we going to find the lemurs today?

Suddenly I stop, I see something moving between the leaves. No rufifrons or rubriventer but a beautiful chameleon. He accelerates his robotic way of moving when he sees that we discovered him. One of his eyes is pointed toward us, the other one toward the branch. We are mesmerized by this weird creature when suddenly we hear some soft oinking above in the tree. The smell of rufifrons, not disagreeable but only perceptible for women, reaches my nose.  Jocelyn, our guide, is the first one who sees them, as always. I give him some sample bags and right after he disappears in the bushes. I try to follow him but he is very quick and lianas, branches and other vegetation hold me back. Jurian is somewhere far behind. I call him with the talkie walkie, not sure if he will hear me.  Under the scratches, battle scars and sweat I find Jocelyn back. He smiles and gives me three sample bags filled with poo. Nice (Tsarabé)! I take my notebook and start observing the lemurs. Rufifrons lives in groups of 5-12 individuals. The youngsters play happily in the tree. In front of me, a big male. I will watch this one closely till he decides to poo. A hard task since he jumps from branch to branch. After a minute or ten Mister Lemur decides to poo. Glory for me, at least if I can find back his precious faeces, which I don’t. Shit happens. Jurian at the other side has more luck. He gives his shit bag a code: Ranomofana, sample 1, rubriventer, (R1RB) male adult, 10:30.  In total we will sample 10 of the 11 individuals that morning. Great success. I wipe my finger off and muse: Darwin wasn’t probably cleaning someone else his shit, but I feel like a king (explorer). This is without knowing what would happen during the rest of the day….