Blog from 2011-2012 MBP Varecia Volunteer, Ryan
Hello all! I’m Ryan, one of the newest volunteers to take over for Mary and Sophie on the Varecia project. As I was packing and preparing for my time in Madagascar, I made sure I checked out the website to try and figure out what I had gotten myself into. While I enjoyed reading the blogs about frogs and chasing lemurs written by the previous set of volunteers, I noticed a gaping hole of information about the actual set up of camp, the practical sort of information that I came to the website looking for. As such, I have taken it upon myself to remedy the situation by writing my first blog entry about camp life. Although I have been in Madagascar for almost three months now, I still consider myself a “new” volunteer here at KAFS (Kianjavato Ahmanson Field Station). Nonetheless, I feel that I can say with some level of confidence that I understand how things work at camp. So for those of you who want to find out a little bit more about the camp life, here we go. KAFS is centered around a single building, (simply known as KAFS) which is made out of three large shipping containers welded together into a horseshoe and is two stories high with brand new wood flooring. For the moment, this building serves mainly for storing all major field equipment, bicycles, as well as gardening supplies. In the future, there are plans to make it into more of a laboratory with a separate storage area elsewhere. In addition, construction should start on a patio area around the building within the next month.
A standard single person tent site
On the hill behind the KAFS building is where most of the tent sites are. These tent sites are big enough to fit a four man tent comfortably and offer a pretty awesome view of the surrounding landscape, including the nearby mountain Vatovavy. Once again, there are plans for constructing more of these tent sites on the hill. The kitchen right now is a covered area with several big tables and benches, big enough to seat 20-30 people comfortably. As of right now, we have three lovely ladies who rotate schedules as cooks, and prepare three meals a day, seven days a week. As for showers, the word “shower” is a bit of a loose term. Really it’s more of a bucket bath, where you fill a bucket with water from the well, use a cup and some soap and go at it. Not exactly luxurious, but it gets the job done and there’s definitely something to be said about pouring cold water over your head after a long day of hiking in the tropics.
The rest of camp is pretty much devoted to one of several nurseries in the area. You can probably find more information about the project elsewhere on the website, but essentially it revolves around the growth and planting of rain forest trees in an attempt to link existing habitat fragments through corridors. Included in this planting regime are fruiting trees for sustainable harvesting by the local Malagasy as well as timber trees for firewood. As such, a large portion of camp is devoted towards the storage and care of these seedlings. Anyways, that’s KAFS in a nutshell. There are a ton of plans to make this place even more incredible and I seriously can’t wait to see what additions will be completed within my next 6 months of working here.
Until next time, veloma! (Malagasy for “goodbye”)