[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][text_output]03/03/15 – 10:08am
Bakozetra, Torotorofotsy Wetlands (North of) – Seeking Wild Mantella crocea

Well, I am back everyone, really apologise for the lack of blog updates but life is life and gets…. A bit manic some times! Right, well where did I leave you all hanging? Ah, that’s right, it was on my way to Bakozetra, the northern most part of the Torotorofotsy Wetlands reserve…

It took approximately an hour to reach the base camp however; it didn’t seem like it as I fell asleep at several points in the journey. Once we arrived at the camp, I urgently needed the toilet and Fano told me where I could find it, when I got within 10 feet the smell was enough to make me gag and you could barely see the door through the flies that covered it, so I decided to simply utilise a bush!

As we started our descent down the mountain side, with the local Indri Lemurs (Indri indri) acting as our iPod with their whale like vocals, we came across many different species, including my first species of Snake. It was a striking and delicate looking Malagasy Yellow-striped Water Snake (Liopholidophis lateralis) in the most unusual place, quite near the top of the mountain but clearly there was a purpose for this, due to the species being also a Batractivore (a frog eater) they tend to follow the many species of Anura up the mountain-side. We moved on and saw many other species of Fauna and Flora including a still in bloom Malagasy Lemon Orchid (Aerangis citrata), Malagasy Green Burrowing Frog (Scaphiophyrne marmorata) and a species I did not recognise.[/text_output]

[text_output]After a 30 minute trek though, we reached the first site of the local Mantella crocea population, however after searching and searching we couldn’t find an specimens at this site, but we did find other species such as Malagasy Climbing Rain Frog (Plethodontohyla mihanika) and Malagasy Jumping Frog (Aglyptodactylus madagascariensis). With this we decided to move to the second and final breeding pond and at this point, it started to rain incredibly hard! Drenched, we proceeded to cross a small fast moving river which you could only cross by a 30 ft log with no ropes etc, lets just say… I definitely have good balance even with my Brasher’s on. After 10 more minutes we arrived in a denser pond area, immediately making me start to search through the leaf litter, fallen Bamboo poles and rotten logs and the next thing I see is the movement I was very familiar with… That was it; I finally found the animal I was looking for, the Endangered Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea).

The colouration was completely foreign to me; it was more of a Reddish Yellow colour with these glorious Red Flash marks which I was later informed by Devin, is a trait carried only by wild specimens. I picked a specimen up and without further encouragement it performed Thanatosis (Playing Dead) behaviour showing off the beautiful ventral side it possessed. We found a further 4 specimens and satisfied with the results of my experiences, we headed back before it got to dark/late. Once we arrived at the Jeep, Fano proceeded to take off all the leeches he had attached to himself, I checked myself and could find nothing… Until once on the road, I noticed the top left breast of my long sleeved top had turned a dark red, upon this I saw a full leech crawling away and lifting my top I saw the blood running down my side. But, it was certainly worth it, the entire trek, just to see these endangered animals.

Hope you enjoyed this, and looking forward to my next installment!

Kind regards,

Joshua Ralph
(MantellaMan)[/text_output][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″]

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[/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][text_output]Joshua Samuel Ralph, a Zoo Keeper specialising in the field of Batrachology (Studying Amphibians), has specialised and fantastised about keeping and working with Amphibia species since he was 7 years old. Joshua seeks a career in Conservation of all Amphibian life, however with one particular genus in mind, the Mantella frog of Madagascar, which he has been breeding as a private keeper for most of his life. After spending some time in Madagascar, Joshua truly saw the issues and threats that not only Amphibians face in the wild but also most species of Fauna and Flora across the island. From writing in media publications including Magazines and working in the field, Joshua hopes that he will not only raise awareness for conservation efforts of Amphibia but also his passion for this truly remarkable Class of life on Earth using many different methods, now including the ASA & ASG.[/text_output][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner]
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