The Trip of a Lifetime!
We have just returned from a 3.5 week scouting trip to central and southern Madagascar. This will be distilled into a 14 day Madagascar Wildlife Expedition scheduled for November 2020. Our exploratory trip was nothing short of life-changing. Madagascar is unquestionably the best primate watching location on the planet.
As a photographer, I wasn’t just interested in ticking boxes, I wanted good encounters with each lemur species that we saw. Fortunately, it turns out that lemurs are posers so the photographic opportunities were excellent.
We visited 12 different parks including Ankarafantsika, Analamazoatra, Mitsinjo, VOI, Vohimana, Mantadia, Andasibe Orchid Garden, Kirindy, Ranomafana, Anja, Isalo, Zombitse, and Tulear. All told, we photographed 28 species of lemurs, plus a few other mammals, a dozen chameleon species, about 20 different frogs, a few different bats, and some very cool lizards and geckos.
Rather than writing an excruciatingly long, blow-by-blow account of the trip, lets just say everyday was amazing! We hiked in rainforests, dry forests and spiny deserts at different elevations. The highlands were humid but cool, and the lowland forests were oppressively hot and dry, but each location delivered numerous new animals so everyday brought new excitement.
Now, at the risk of crashing our server, here is one shot of every species of lemur that we saw, plus a handful of bug-eyed chameleons and colourful frogs. Enjoy!
Black and White Ruffed Lemur – Varecia variegata
Goodman’s Mouse Lemur – Microcebus lehilahytsara
Milne Edwards Sportive Lemur – Lepilemur edwardsi
Mongoose Lemur – Eulemur mongoz
Diademed Sifaka – Propithecus diadema
Gray Mouse Lemur – Microcebus murinus
Milne Edwards Sifaka – Propithecus edwardsi
Furry-eared Dwarf Lemur – Cheirogaleus crossleyi
Ring-tailed Lemur – Lemur catta
Eastern Woolly Lemur – Avahi laniger
Red-tailed Sportive Lemur – Lepilemur ruficaudatus
Red-fronted Brown Lemur – Eulemur rufifrons
Indri – Indri indri
Verreaux’s Sifaka – Propithecus verreauxi
Common Brown Lemur – Eulemur fulvus
Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur – Cheirogaleus medius
Zombitse Sportive Lemur – Lepilemur hubbardorum
Weasel Sportive Lemur – Lepilemur mustelinus
Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur – Microcebus berthae
The smallest primate in the world!
Pale Fork-marked Lemur – Phaner pallescens
Grey-brown Mouse Lemur – Microcebus griseorufus
Grey Bamboo Lemur – Hapalemur griseus
Rufus Grey Lemur – Eulemur rufus
Red Ruffed Lemur – Varecia rubra
Coquerel’s sifaka – Propithecus coquereli
Golden Bamboo Lemur – Hapalemur aureus
Rufous Mouse Lemur – Hapalemur aureus
Red-bellied Lemur – Eulemur rubriventer
We saw quite a few other mammals but a lot of them saw me first and ducked into the undergrowth before I could get a shot. We saw one fossa crossing the road; Madagascar’s version of a big cat but actually descended from a mongoose. Also, a few endemic rodents, the largest being the Malagasy Giant Jumping Rat that looks like a cross between a rat and an aardvark. Plus a solitary mongoose and a few bats. Combined with lemurs, we identified 35 different mammals but if you count bats in flight, we probably saw quite a few more.
Malagasy Giant Jumping Rat – Hypogeomys antimena
Narrow-striped Mongoose – Mungotictis decemlineata
Commerson’s Roundleaf Bat – Macronycteris commersoni
Peter’s Sheath-tailed Bat – Paremballonura atrata
In a country as rich in animals as Madagascar, it is hard to know where to point your camera. We concentrated on lemurs so inevitably, we missed some very cool frogs in the process. However, I still managed to shoot maybe 20 frog species when I dedicated time to look for them.
Baron’s Mantella Frog – Mantella baroni
Gephyromtis species (I think)
Spiny-Narrow-mouthed Frog – Scaphiophryne boribory
We ran into chameleons of all shapes and sizes in every park that we visited. Some are very unique looking but others look quite similar so I’m still working through the ID process. I’ll eventually post each species on our instagram and Facebook pages once I am sure what species they are.
Oustalet’s Chameleon – Furcifer oustaleti
Lance-nosed Chameleon – Calumma gallus
Blue-legged Chameleon – Calumma crypticum
Brown Leaf Chameleon – Brookesia superciliaris
Nose-horned Chameleon – Calumma nasutum
Parson’s Chameleon – Calumma parsonii
Like everything else, gecko diversity in Madagascar is amazing! Some geckos are colourful and easy to find, other’s are masters of camouflage like this leaf-tailed gecko:
Henkel’s Leaf-tailed Gecko – Uroplatus henkeli
Ocelot Big-headed Gecko – Paroedura picta
Malagasy Day Gecko – Phelsuma madagascariensis
Lizards and Snakes
We found lizards everywhere. As always, snakes were more difficult but we probably saw about a dozen during the whole month we were in Madagascar. I do like the fact that there isn’t a single venomous snake in the entire country; very reassuring while bushwacking to get close to lemurs 🙂
Madagascan Sand Lizard – Chalarodon madagascariensis
Malagasy Spiny-tailed Iguana – Oplurus cuvieri
Malagasy Hognose Snake – Leioheterodon madagascariensis
Malagasy Tree Boa – Sanzinia madagascariensis
Wow, you made it all the way to the bottom of the report. Well done!
Needless to say, we’re planning to run a guest trip next year. To be honest, I’d go again even if I we didn’t have any guests because I’ve never been anywhere this crammed with photogenic animals.
You need to be fairly fit to handle all the hiking on this trip. Other than that, its open to everyone.
You’re going to love it! Madagascar Wildlife Adventure 2020
Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar