Joan de la Malla - Wildlife Photography

El Herrerillo

El Herrerillo

In my last chronicle I told you that Madagascar is not, in general, the paradigm of what we used to imagine when thinking about Central Africa.

However, the traveler can reconcile with the most iconic Africa by visiting the forests of baobabs that surround Morondava. There I spent my days with the Pit in Kirindi. The scenic baobabs rise majestically between the forests and grasses of this region of the island. In some areas, they are particularly abundant, as in the well-known avenue of baobabs, where several of these ancient mastodons prostrate alongside a reddish dirt track. They tell the Malagasy legends that God punished these trees by putting them upside down, burying their cups in the earth and leaving their roots in the air. Legends aside, the baobab, with their particular bearing, manage to convey a mysticism or something special that seems to make a dent in both the Malagasy and visitors who watch them entranced. Perhaps the acacias of the Central African savannas are the most emblematic tree of the continent, but certainly the contemplation of the baobab gives off an intense flavor to Africa. (You can click on the photos to see them in large)

We want to put some cypress to make a barrier to the wind, because it destroys the leaves of the palms. We put cotoneaster horizontalis, thinking that they were pyracantas, already they were transplanted.

Morondava is a pleasant seaside town in western Malagasy, friendly people and where life goes smoothly. The main activity of its people is fishing and boatbuilding and they like to dedicate their free time, as in the whole country, to dominoes and petanque. After finishing my days in Morondava, I went to Ambositra, a charming little town where I could rest for a day on the way to my next destination. Away from the masses and the tourist circuits, Ambositra gives off a colonial air that revives passages of so many novels set in those times.

I went there to have the pleasure of being invited by the University of Helsinki to collaborate in workshops and with the scientists of that university who work in the park. Now I write these lines from ValBio, one of the most important biological stations in the tropics and one of the most spectacular I've seen to date. I will spend the rest of my trip here (at the station or expedition with the university) giving some classes and reporting the field work being done. My welcome has been very good and the group of researchers and teachers are great people that have made it very easy for me to join the group. I have given some talks about photography and conservation and photography techniques applied to biological research.

Working with scientists and research is always motivating, however, my ratio of photos has inevitably declined: work in ValBio forces me to spend some time in front of the computer. Still, I have to confess that I have spent computer hours in worse places ... During these days at ValBio I have also collaborated with Patricia Wright, one of the most important primatologists in the world and a great conservation activist. I have reported her work with sifakas in Ranomafana and it has been a pleasure to share a walk and talk with her in the forest or in the biological station. At the moment they carry out an important monitoring of some populations through the placement of radiocollars, at which time it is also used to analyze the health status of the individuals captured to detect possible diseases or deficiencies.