Blog by Amelia Greenberg
Even with all the work everyone at KAFS does, there is still time for adventuring and learning about the many activities that make up the research and work that happens here at KAFS! Case in point—today we (the reforestation volunteers and our manager Fredo) trekked to the peak of Vatovavy. For those of you not familiar with this mountain, its name means literally “rock girl” in Malagasy and it refers to the eastern facing side of the peak whose rock formation roughly resembles a girl’s face. It is also one of the few fragments of primary forest that remains undisturbed by humans in the region. It is prime lemur habitat and throughout the week the mountain is frequented by the Varecia and aye-aye lemur monitoring teams.
We were accompanied on our hike by Aubin—a Malagasy graduate student who is doing a year-long research project here at KAFS relating to the collection of seeds passed through lemurs, seed germination, and compost for the KAFS’ nurseries—and Abaniky, a local who knows the paths of Vatovavy and helps to identify and collect seeds. We scrambled upwards for an hour and a half (a time that I’m certain the locals could have halved, easily, although even at our slow pace we were sweating enough to render any application of sunscreen or bug spray useless). On the way up we passed a couple of Eulemur rufifrons humming down at us for disturbing their peace.
The view from the top was worth the sweat and whatever blood I gave to the mosquitoes on the climb up. The mountains far beneath us undulated away in all directions and the space between the mountain tops and the sky was vast. It is the same vastness I notice with the night sky here. There is such depth and distance, and so many minute details within it all, that the space seems to become animated as you watch it. It’s hard to take your eyes away. Several kestrels soared close over our heads. Back in the forest we stumbled across a small chameleon who took three steps towards a dead log and then remained quite still as we leaned in for closer inspection. We let him be and descended as the midday sun filtered through the treetops.