Our guide took us to a kind of sewage ditch in Maroantsetra where you could find the red tomato frog. This was successful and we got some good pictures of the plump little guys. Afterward we took the guide and his brother out for lunch. The food came. Except for the guides food. I asked him what he had ordered. Then I noticed two flies on his table mat – ’Besides flies.’
Shells from the elephant bird egg can be found on the beach in southern Madagascar. The bird (now extinct) weighed about 400 kg and stood some 3 meters tall. The egg held about 8 liters.
We have seen the Helmet Vanga with its bright blue beak. We have also seen the Flying Zebu – which is even rarer. We were walking along a forest path. There was a log at chest height which had fallen across the path. On the other side from us was a Madagascar zebu or brahmin bull. It couldn’t get under the log because of the hump on its back. To our amazement this heavy creature leapt like a ballet dancer over the log. It was clearly the rare Flying Zebu.
We have seen other strange creatures. One of these was a tiny chameleon which is 3 cm long and is so light you can’t feel it in your hand (1 gram?). We have also seen a number of leaf-tailed geckos (Uroplatus fimbriatus) on the island of Nosy Mangabe. The tail of the gecko does look like a leaf. Its fingers head and body can be flattened onto the trunk of a tree. It also has the colours of the tree. Presto it disappears. People are often surprised when they finally understand that they are looking at an animal.
The leaftailed gecko has zombie eyes.
We went on several night walks. You all have flashlights. My skiing headlamp
was ideal for this. It covers a large area. I find the ordinary flashlight
so strong that it drowns very faint reflections. Anyway. The light is
reflected back from the animal’s eyes. The reflection from the lemur
is quite powerful. Some of the lemurs are only nocturnal so it is the
only way to see them. We saw many mouse lemurs and 9 leaf-tailed geckos.
You also pick up frogs, moths, snakes and birds. Especially the birds
remain completely frozen and you can get to within a few inches. It is
a rare experience to actually see how birds rest at night – often
in pairs. Night walks would be great for children – it’s like
a treasure hunt.