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 Post subject: Madagascar Part 1: Ifaty and Reniala National Forest
PostPosted: July 19th, 2017, 5:43 pm 
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Joined: June 25th, 2014, 10:34 am
Posts: 62
Location: Huntington, West Virginia
My wife and I had a marvelous trip to Madagascar in late April to late May. Chameleons, day geckos, night geckos, skinks, snakes, and frogs were diverse and abundant. We hired Alejandro Arteaga and Jose Vieira of Tropical Herping (http://www.tropicalherping.com) as our guides. These folks are adept at finding the creatures to photograph with the additional assistance from local guides. For the rainforest part of our trip we visited Anjozorobe National Park, Andasibe National Park, the region of Ankanin'ny Nofy, and Ranomafana National Park in the eastern part of Madagascar. We then headed into the dry southwestestern part of Madagascar to visit Anjay Community Park, Isalo National Forest, Arboretum d'Antsokay near Toliara, and Reniala National Forest near the town of Ifaty.

Imagemadagascar trip by mitchberk, on Flickr

I will relate our adventure starting in the dry southwest at Reniala National Forest and in the adjacent town of Ifaty.
Reniala National Forest has a remnant stand of Baobab trees.

ImageBaobab by mitchberk, on Flickr [url=https://flic.kr/p/WTy3FV]

Image
Baobab by mitchberk, on Flickr

The hotel we stayed at in Ifaty was a haven for three species of day geckos (Phelsuma). I knocked two species off my list even before I got to my room! The large Phelsuma standingi was readily found at the restaurant and also in Reniala National Forest.

Image[/url]Phelsuma standingi by mitchberk, on Flickr

ImagePhelsuma standingi by mitchberk, on Flickr

The smaller Phelsuma modesta preferred to inhabit the rooms.

ImagePhelsuma modesta by mitchberk, on Flickr. ImagePhelsuma modesta by mitchberk, on Flickr

Phelsuma mutabilis was found around the hotel grounds.

ImagePhelsuma mutabilis by mitchberk, on Flickr

ImagePhelsuma mutabilis by mitchberk, on Flickr

Staying on the gecko theme, Lygodactylus verticillatus is a small gecko that was found on the hotel grounds (trash heap) and in Reniala National Forest.

ImageLygodactylus verticillatus by mitchberk, on Flickr

Although Blaseodactylus sakalava is a nocturnal gecko, they were routinely found during the day near their tree hole or on a tree trunk. Only one was found at night. Go figure.

ImageBlaseodactylus sakalava by mitchberk, on Flickr

ImageBlaseodactylus sakalava by mitchberk, on Flickr

Finishing off the geckos, our local guide caught a couple of nocturnal Paroedura androyensis, which made up for the rather poor showing in the national forest the night before.

ImageParoedura androyensis by mitchberk, on Flickr

Representing the Iguanidae family is the interesting Chalarodon madagascariensis, which has a parietal eye that remarkably resembles the appearance of the eyes rendering a three-eyed look to this little iguanid. They were very plentiful in the early mourning hours in the national forest located on stumps and on the sandy soil typical of any good iguanid.

ImageChalarodon madagascariensis by mitchberk, on Flickr

ImageChalarodon madagascariensis by mitchberk, on Flickr

ImageChalarodon madagascariensis by mitchberk, on Flickr

Oplurus cyclurus is a spiny-tailed iguanid found on tree trunks and to some extent on rocks.

ImageOplurus cyclurus by mitchberk, on Flickr


Now on to the plated lizard, the Gerrhosaurids. Tracheloptychus petersi is a rather attractive, colorful lizard. These were not as numerous as the abundant Chalarodon madagascariensis but each day we saw at least three of these handsome lizards. They were found on the ground.

ImageTracheloptychus petersi by mitchberk, on Flickr

ImageTracheloptychus petersi by mitchberk, on Flickr

As for skinks, Trachylepis aureopunctatus is a beautiful skink whose head and neck are lined by rows of white spots on a brownish-black ground color. They were commonly found on tree trunks and stumps.

ImageTrachylepis aureopunctatus by mitchberk, on Flickr

ImageTrachylepis aureopunctatus by mitchberk, on Flickr

Rounding out the skinks that I photographed is Trachylepis elegans, which is a rather diminutive skink, which can be differentiated from the more common Trachylepis gravenhorstii by the presence of a small patch of reddish scales rostral and dorsal to the forelimbs.

ImageTrachylepis elegans by mitchberk, on Flickr

How could a visit to Madagascar not include chameleons? We saw 17 different species on this trip. The guides found a couple of large Furcifer verracosus at Reniala National Forest. Furcifer antimena is also found there but the guide said it had been too dry. So we settled for this impressive specimen.

ImageFurcifer verracosus by mitchberk, on Flickr

Enough with the lizards and on to the snakes. Liophidium chabaudi is a rare snake found in a few localities in the arid southwest. It is has a penchant for burrowing in the sandy soil. The snake would burrow into the sand within seconds after its placement on the ground. The photo shows its emergence from the soil substrate.

ImageLiophidium chabaudi emerging from sand by mitchberk, on Flickr

ImageLiophidium chabaudi by mitchberk, on Flickr

Unlike the previous snake, Madagascarophis colubrinus is quit common.

ImageMadagascarophis colubrinus by mitchberk, on Flickr

Equally common is the snake Mimophis mahfalensis, which is found in various habitats throughout Madagascar.

ImageMimophis mahfalensis by mitchberk, on Flickr

In addition to the herps of Reniala National Forest and Ifaty, l managed to get a decent picture of a sleeping Madagascar Green Sunbird (juvenile male).

ImageMadagascar Green Sunbird, juvenile male by mitchberk, on Flickr

Not to be undone were the invertebrates. The night hike did reveal a strikingly marked spider (species??).

ImageSpider by mitchberk, on Flickr

Preying mantis were commonly seen in various habitats and regions of Madagascar. The one pictured below was subsequently zapped by the tongue of a chameleon. I got the shot of the tongue directly hitting the mantis but unfortunately the focus was way off.

ImagePreying Mantis by mitchberk, on Flickr

ImagePreying Mantis by mitchberk, on Flickr

Although seemingly common, this cricket was caught in the act of laying eggs in the sandy soil.

ImageCricket laying eggs by mitchberk, on Flickr

This butterfly (species?) was very cooperative compared to others of this species in Isalo National Park. This one actually gave me many opportunities to photograph it with its wings open instead of closed.

ImageButterfly, Reniala National Forest by mitchberk, on Flickr

Our transportation to Reniala National Forest on our last day at Ifaty was rather unique. A two Zebu (Madagascar cattle) led cart carried Ale, Jose, Connie, and myself for the short ride. That was a memorable experience in itself!

ImagePassenger cart by mitchberk, on Flickr

Ifaty is a fishing village with outrigger canoes and sail canoes rigged with homemade sails.

ImageFishing boat, Ifaty, Madagascar by mitchberk, on Flickr

ImageFishing canoe by mitchberk, on Flickr

The sunset at Ifaty beach was impressive.

ImageSunset at Ifaty beach, Madagascar by mitchberk, on Flickr

I will take you next to the Arboretum d' Antsokay which is located just east of the southwest coastal town of Toliara in the second installment of the Madagascar trip.


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 Post subject: Re: Madagascar Part 1: Ifaty and Reniala National Forest
PostPosted: July 31st, 2017, 8:20 pm 
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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Posts: 572
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
Wow, what a start to your Madagascar trip! I look forward to catching up on the rest.

John


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