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Gallery: Natural History

Remote River Expeditions wishes to thank Natural History Magazine along with Deborah Ross and authors Peter Kappler and Alexandra Dill for kindly allowing us to reproduce this article from their September 2000 isssue.

Near the west-central coast of Madagascar, and a mere hour's drive from the town of Morondava, is the 25,000-acre Kirindy Forest. Dominated by majestic baobab trees, it is home to the world's smallest known primate as well as to dozens of amphibian and reptile species and more than sixty species of birds. Every rainy season, Kirindy transforms itself from a tangle of dry branches on which not a single green leaf can be found to an impenetrable emerald wall. Its changeable beauty and the diversity of its inhabitants are enough to captivate any visitor. But the forest`s pull on us lies not so much in its considerable visual charm as in the actions of its eight resident species of lemurs.
Some of Kirindy's lemurs are strictly nocturnal, others are active only in the daytime, and some are up and about day and night. Different species also exhibit different patterns of activity over the course of a year. In some, both sexes hibernate, while in others, only the female takes time out. For almost a decade, we and other members of the German primate Center have been working to find out more about this unusual web of daily and yearly activity cycles. Kirindy is indeed a place of pronounced seasonal changes. A short, hot rainy season between December and February is followed by nine month with virtually no rain. At the height of the dry season, nightly temperatures regularly drop below 50°F and sometime stay just above freezing; during the day, tempereatures may rise above 86°F. During the rainy season, temperatures fluctuate between 68° and 104° in the course of twenty-four hours. Most of the forest's trees respond to the extended dry season by dropping all their leaves to conserve water. Some, such as the three species of baobabs, also store water in their huge trunks. Kirindy's trees tend to grow extremely slowly and (unlike many tropical trees) have pronounced seasonal cycles of flowering, leafing, and fruiting. The response of most amphibians and reptiles to the area's dramatic seasonality is to do much of theirs hard living - finding a mate, producing eggs, growing, and preparing for the next dry season - during the


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Remote River Expeditions in Madagascar, Ethiopia, Tanzania - River Trips and Tours

Experience the romance of East Africa. We invite you to join one of Remote River Expeditions' adventures into Madagascar, Ethiopia, and Tanzania and see the atrractions of those countries. Each trip is completely unique. Each expedition has its own special challenges and serendipitous, human connections. What you can expect in every instance, however -- and why many of our clients return, year after year - is an outstanding wilderness experience including great food, magnificent wildlife, and friendships forged that last a lifetime.

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