“Day two started much like day one but the rain over the afternoon and night had caused the river to rise even more which had a knock on effect for the rest of the day. To get to the study site for the day-we would normally have waded through a shallow part of the river. Unfortunately this was not really very shallow anymore-in fact-it looked more like a white water rafting course than a crossing point-so a detour had to be made.
“The detour led us in a large arc into the forest where we came to a small bridge… well it was more like a log under water in which you had to use a stick to help you balance! Or not in my case – it wasn’t long before I fell off the log and straight into the water – I was totally soaked through.
“At this point I felt thoroughly like an explorer and pressed on-when a combination of screaming and swearing erupted about 10metres ahead of me. Gilberto (the only one who knew what was going on) grabbed me and dragged me sideways 20 metres before continuing onwards then back to path. He had navigated us around what turned out to be a wasp nest that had been disturbed by one of the guides. The number of casualties wasn’t too high and after a few moments of excruciation-the pain passed and we continued to the site. Once at the site myself and Wayne began setting up more quadrats whilst Luiza and the field team started collecting the 40 frogs she needed to scan as part of her PhD.
“Luiza is looking into the health and fitness of captive animals compared to wild specimens. With the data collected we began our trek back-which-to be honest I wasn’t really looking forward to. Gilberto decided we’d head farther inland and try our luck at getting out via one of the large rice paddies nearby. This proved to be less eventful than the journey in but a little slower as a result of traversing the 10cm wide banks of the paddy fields-a little like walking on a tightrope. Eventually we made it to solid dry ground and as a reward the sun came out briefly as we walked back.
“On day three-the whole team headed to our second ‘mark and release’ site which was happily much closer to camp than the first and required only one small river crossing and a bit of wading. On our way we saw lots of Mantellas as well as Madagascan jumping frogs and warty bright eyed treefrog. Again we set up a bit of a base for the data collection and the team vanished off into the forest to return with boxes of mantellas for us to process.
“We revisited each of the sites a further two times repeating the data collection whilst encountering a few more of Madagascar’s herpetofauna including leaf chameleons-carpet chameleons and Madagascan hognose snakes.”