Hi everyone, my name is Danni and I’m a Zookeeper at Wellington Zoo. Thanks to the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund I have spent the past few weeks working in the beautiful forests of Madagascar, assisting Wellington Zoo’s conservation partner, Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG).
MFG is an international non-profit organisation comprised of zoos, aquariums, botanic gardens and universities with the goal of protecting and preserving Madagascar’s biodiversity.
Madagascar is the 4th largest island in the world and about 90% of Madagascar’s wildlife is found no where else on the planet, however extreme poverty and the resulting deforestation endangers the unique biodiversity of this island.
MFG with the support of its member institutions, like Wellington Zoo is committed to;
Thanks to Wellington Zoo’s conservation staff grant, I was given the opportunity to work in the field assisting our conservation partner. I stayed on site at Ivoloina Zoological Park to conduct an ecological fauna study to establish what native species were present in the forests of the park and identify any introduced species that may be inside the park boundary.
This study involved surveying 2 transects of forest, recording what species were observed and data such as the time, location and habitat in which they were found in. This data will assist MFG to put in place conservation programs designed to target the removal of any introduced species to protect and preserve the native fauna.
Two local guides assisted me with this work; Jean Honere a conservation agent from Betampona Natural Reserve, who travelled down to assist me with amphibian identifications (there are hundreds of frog species in Madagascar) and Charlie a guide here at the zoo, who was also an amazing bird spotter! Each day we did a morning and an afternoon/evening survey and in between I combined all our observation notes and photos onto record sheets.
The topography of the forest was incredibly steep with a really dense understory and as it is the end of the wet season in Madagascar, the ground was also wet and slippery from the almost daily rainfall. Lucky, I like a challenge!
We observed 50 different species in the park, from tiny nocturnal frogs, bright green Madagascan Day Geckos, the famous Lemurs, a grand total of 1 Chameleon and a host of birdlife. Two Day Geckos lived in my hut and I had a giant snail that guarded my back door (seriously it was HUGE).
The primary concern for the native fauna at Ivoloina is the introduction of the Asian Common Toad that is slowly making its way towards the forest of Ivoloina and will have catastrophic consequences for the survival of hundreds of species if it reaches Ivoloina Zoological Park. Thankfully we did not seen any trace of this species!
Well that's it for now, make sure you keep an eye out for my next blog where I talk about some of the incredible highlights of my conservation adventure!