Thursday, 15 November 2012


14th November

Yesterday’s long walk in Talatakely was hard work for our clients so, having seen seven species of lemur in Ranomafana already (in chronological order: golden bamboo, small-toothed sportive, Milne-Edwards’ sifaka, Peyrieras’ avahi, red-bellied, red-fronted brown, and brown mouse), this morning we resolved to go in search of the greater bamboo lemur and, having succeeded or failed, to head for home and have a restful day. When you set out to see one species of lemur, you see five, naturally. When we entered the forest our spotter, Bako, had already found Talatakely’s last two greater bamboo lemurs and, after a good walk, we saw them astonishingly well. They hopped through the trees just two metres from us and came down to the ground to feed on fallen bamboo shoots. It was the encounter of a lifetime; quite literally as Claude had never seen them like this in fourteen years of visits.

Leaving the greater bamboos we passed a red-bellied female with indecent haste as we’d heard that Bako had found the rarely-seen Ranomafana grey bamboo lemur nearby. (This is a subspecies of the eastern grey bamboo lemur I saw recently in Andasibe.) We reached the trail to hear that the grey bamboos had been lost, though we were consoled by a couple of golden bamboos passing by in the tops of the trees. A call went up: the grey bamboos had been found again, and in moments we were watching these lovely little animals and comparing them with the greater bamboos we had been watching at point-blank range just moments before. The subspecies here seems browner than the eastern grey of Andasibe-Mantadia and, of course, much slighter than the greater bamboo. It also lacks the greater’s strong muzzle and big teeth, for tearing into tougher bamboos, and its diagnostic white ear tufts.

We were, our guide Berthin told us, the first Naturetrek group, of eight this season, to see the grey bamboo and thus all three of the park’s bamboo lemurs. We saw them all within the space of an hour. Jolly chuffed we were too.

On the way home, well, we stopped to admire a basking tree boa by the roadside. And in the hotel garden on our return the gardener showed us two magnificent and very obliging chameleons: a male belted and a female Parson’s. It's a good place, Ranomafana.

A new mammal subspecies in Ranomafana today


Ranomafana grey bamboo lemur
Hapalemur griseus ranomafanensis

2012 Totals
Mammals: 128
Birds: 983
Reptiles: 71
Amphibians: 20
Fish: 12

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