Monday, 29 October 2012

Berenty


27th October

As I write tonight a white-footed sportive lemur bounds down the tin roof of my cabin and disappears into the night giving his breathy call. A Torotoroka scops owl hoots, softly, rhythmically, nearby. Today we reached Berenty.

The road was very bad – worse even than last year – and the journey long; but this place has an alchemy of its own and it’s impossible for anyone – clients and tour leaders alike – to arrive here and not forget in five minutes the early start, the incompetence of Air Madagascar, and the coccyx-crunching state of disrepair of Route Nationale 13.

For as soon as you step from your minibus in Berenty you are greeted by ring-tailed lemurs strutting across the red soil of the car park. In the edge of the forest are families of hybrid brown lemurs with little youngsters (these are the gene-jumbled descendents of red-fronted brown and red-collared brown lemurs, neither of which belongs here but which were misguidedly released in the past). A family of Verreaux’s sifakas speeds through the trees and all thoughts of discomfort or of long journeys are forgotten.

This evening we walked in the gallery forest. Almost as soon as we entered it my torch’s beam fell on the bright eyes of a sedate sportive lemur, the first of several we saw. Less sedate were four grey mouse lemurs which pinged through the understorey at speed. Spiny-backed chameleons dozed, white-browed owls sang – wrrroh! – and we felt privileged to have reached this last island of wild habitat in a sisal sea.


New today in Berenty and on our journey here

Mammals

100
white-footed sportive lemur
Lepilemur leucopus
101
grey mouse lemur
Microcebus murinus

Birds

950
giant coua
Coua gigas
951
Torotoroka scops owl
Otus madagascariensis

Reptiles

47
Madagascar lined snake
Bibilava lateralis
48
changeable day gecko
Phelsuma mutabilis
49

Lygodactylus tuberosus

2012 Totals
Mammals: 101
Birds: 951
Reptiles: 49
Amphibians: 15
Fish: 11

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