Madagascar Diaries
By Kelly Barker, Durrell's Head of Marketing

   « Day 7 & 8 Day 9 & 10
Travelling to the pochard & Madagascar pochard breeding centre
Day 11 & 12 »

 

Wednesday 2nd November

9.20am

I am in Durrell office in Tana today. Going to plough through my 400 emails, type up my diary and upload some pictures to Facebook. It’s lovely to catch up with the team and tell them about my trip. It’s also nice to have a break from the Landrover today!

Have created a Durrell Madagascar page and added pictures from Festival Songatagna I am helping that the team will get into the swing of it and we can maximise on that in Jersey too.

Internet connection is so slow in the office though it gets really frustrating as everything takes an age and it really slows you down. Yet another obstacle for the team out here. Tomorrow I am heading to Antsohihy to see the Madagascan Pochard breeding centre (the rarest duck in the world). I will be travelling up with Andy from WWT and Felix from Durrell who are currently working on this project. The drive will probably be about 12 hours, so a pretty tough one.

Thursday 3rd November

6.44am

In the Durrell Toyota Hilux, just set off from Maison de Pyla ready for the 12 hour drive – eeek! It is quite comfortable and I am hoping I can sleep for some of the journey. At the moment we are waiting for something to take with us so each minute we are waiting, I am thinking we are not going to make it to the hotel before dark. I have just been chatting to Felix who is managing the conservation of the Madagascar Pochard and he says the difficulties include local people (authorities/administration and communities), understanding why it’s important to save the pochard and the obstacles include, if we do find a new area to relocate the birds to, security issues. If local people don’t see it’s important they will likely slash & burn for example. When I asked Felix why it’s important to save the pochard he said; because it’s endemic and endangered. The idea is to use it as a symbol for wetland restoration. All the wetlands are basically ruined. So taking wetlands and restoring them for a pochard would mean the wetland was good enough for humans. This is how the locals will start to hopefully care, once this message gets to them. The question is how to get this message to them? Festivals seem very effective so perhaps that is the next stage in awareness raising. I am really looking forward to getting to Antsohihy and meeting my first pochard and getting some quality footage.

Friday 4th November

2.00pm

Just had a flying visit to Antsohihy we arrived last night after just over 11 hours in a Landrover! Had a nice night with Andy (WWT) and Simon (Durrell-Jersey), sampled some gorgeous rum and a few beers and had the latest night yet! Something I regretted when Simon was knocking on my door for breakfast at 6am!

Today I saw the pochards for the first time and they are beautiful. The males have the white eyes, which are stunning. I have got some great interviews too with Tsanta, Simon and Felix. Also I got Tsanta on camera giving vaccinations for avian pox to the two ducklings. Tsanta really loves her job and it comes across.

We have set off now on another Landrover journey, this time only 5 hours! We are off to Ampijoroa to see Re-re Turtles, ploughshares and also I should be able to see some other animals as well in the national park, lots of lemurs I hope.

By the way, my ‘no mosquito bites record’ has been broken.. gutted! Strangely enough it was through my long pants! Oh well, I can’t win them all.

Hasina just told me about a story of a culture that is part of the Sofia region (where Antsohihy is). When mums get to a certain age they get pregnant to a mystery man and they leave their husband and existing children to go off and bring the baby elsewhere so that the baby can look after them when it’s old enough! How mad is that?

 

Day 1 - Travelling to Madagascar
Day 2 - First impressions

Day 3 - Travelling to Festival du Songatana, part 1
Day 4 - Travelling to Festival du Songatana, part 2

Day 5 - The festival
Day 6 - Travelling to Alaotra

Day 7 - Visiting Alaotran communities
Day 8 - Gentle lemurs at the lake

Day 9 - Travelling to the pochard
Day 10 - Madagascar pochard breeding centre

Day 11 - My Ampijoroa and other animals
Day 12 - Ploughshare tortoises

Day 13 - Au revoir   

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