Well the rains have arrived in Andavadoaka, Madagascar. Upon arriving in Andavadoaka in mid-September, it was hot and dry; so dry that I did not see rain for almost three months. So when someone promised that it did, in fact, rain in Madagascar; I could not believe her. However, the past week and a half strong storms have graced us with their presence. Having lived through several hurricanes I was not too worried, and knew what to expect. Wind and Rain! Luckily all was perfectly fine on site. The only misfortune has been a delay in diving due to the horrible visibility that storms can stir up. Yet, we have managed to stay very busy. We have made two treks to the spiny forest; one to see the flamingos and one to map the baobabs. The flamingos stop in the oasis created during the rainy season on their
migration route about a one hour walk outside of Andavadoaka. The volunteers were so eager to get as close as possible to the flock, we ended up traipsing through the muddy marsh up to almost our knees. Mmmm!!
The next day the ocean’s visibility was once again deemed unsuitable for diving, so off to the baobabs we trekked. A part of the spiny forest which includes baobabs was recently added as a part of the village’s protected area with the aim of promoting tourism in the future. The volunteers map the baobabs with GPS as well as measure the human impact upon the protected family. There exist eight species of baobabs in the world, six of which can be found in Madagascar. All six species are nationally protected.
In addition to checking out the baobabs, Ashley, our resident ornithologist, taught the volunteers a bit about the birds of the area. We played different bird calls from her computer in five different locations to see if there was any response. It is currently mating season, thus most species are territorial and will respond to invaders. We found this to be especially true with the Souimanga Sunbird. The volunteers were lucky enough to not only attract a plethora of different bird species but a few snakes crossed our path as well. The trip turned out to be quite a learning experience for all involved, including the
zebu cart driver who learned a bit about bird songs.
Anne Furr, Long term Volunteer