We met this young girl, waiting eagerly for her brothers to arrive from school, behind a wire fence in the village of Ranomafana.
A large wire fence separated these schoolchildren from the bus that would take them home.
Wire fences, empty bottles, metal bins and skips make up much of young Jerome’s world as he grows up along the village streets of Ranomafana.
Ezekiel and Sanna
Young Ezekiel struggles to peep over a wooden barrier and join his older sister, Sanna, in her view of the world.
Fresh produce fills the sacks and stalls in Ranomafana’s busy central market.
Safe from the rain, I took Fosiah’s photograph under the shelter of a wooden bus stop. Cellular storms are a common occurrence over the central massif of Madagascar.
School attendance is incredibly low in Madagascar, even when compared to other countries on the mainland. Remi smiled confidently at the camera as we took her photograph on her way to school.
The usual road to school passed typical houses made of wood and corrugated iron.
Pushing her little brother Ezekiel out of the way, Sanna quickly took control of her portrait session.
The walk to school fell into clownish chaos.
The sound of rain, or perhaps her mother’s call in the distance, put an end to the horseplay and Sanna finally led her brother safely home.
Highland weather calls for thicker clothes and furs to protect against the mountain chill.
This huge chameleon species thunders over branches, its eyes darting left and right for a dragonfly or hissing cockroach to feast upon.
Panther Chameleons are a large species of chameleon found in Northern Madagascar. ‘Furciferi’ refers to their specialized feet, which allow the panther chameleon to achieve a tight grip on narrow branches. Each toe is equipped with a sharp claw to gain traction on surfaces such as bark when climbing.
Like most species of chameleons, the panther chameleon is very territorial. It spends the majority of its life in isolation, apart from mating sessions. When two males come into contact, they will change color and inflate their bodies, attempting to assert their dominance. Often these battles end at this stage, with the loser retreating, turning drab and dark colors. Occasionally, the displays result in physical combat if neither contender backs down.
Another large chameleon species, more robust and muscular but not quite as long as the Oustalet’s, this species is found in Northern and Eastern Madagascar. A small mayfly has caught this one’s attention.
Parson's chameleons are omnivorous, eating most plants, insects and possibly small birds. They are primarily listed as insectivores because their diet mainly consists of: mantis, large beetles, moths, and roaches including the Madagascar hissing cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa). They have been speculated to eat small mammals and birds and are known to eat other lizard species.
It is a common misconception that chameleons of any kind can change color to match any color of their environments. All chameleons have a natural color range with which they are born, and is dictated by their species. It is affected by temperature, mood, and light. If, for example, the color purple is not within the range of colors to which their particular species can change, then they will never turn purple.
The eyes of a chameleon are their most distinctive feature. The upper and lower eyelids are joined, with only a pinhole large enough for the pupil to see through. They can rotate and focus separately to observe two different objects simultaneously; their eyes move independently from each other. It in effect gives them a full 360-degree arc of vision around their bodies. When prey is located, both eyes can be focused in the same direction, giving sharp stereoscopic vision and depth perception.
The humidity of the rainforest shows up as dew drops on this female chameleon’s tail.
A female flap-eared chameleon surveys the outside world with gentle eyes.
Much like a stealthy tank, a Parson’s chameleon creeps through the foliage unperturbed.
A fiery red male chameleon makes his way along a branch, eyes fixed upon prey or foe.
A large Parson’s Chameleon puffs out his chest and sides, demonstrating his sizable girth. The king has chosen green robes for the evening.
They have witnessed brutal fights from canopy heights, fellows being lifted off by hungry hawks and thousands of locusts zapped from their resting branches during insect migration and reptilian feeding sprees.
Up in the Canopy
A dazzling tail is kept coiled till the first rays of morning sunshine touch its delicate scales. The lush rain forest of Ranomafana drips from every leaf, petal and chameleon.
A Panther chameleon surveys the world above him. Branches are weighed down by mighty kings and horned knights. His blood red armor shimmers in the Malagasy light. Today might be his last chance for domination and the title of alpha male.
A Poisonous Gift
Our guide lifts a toxic poison arrow frog from the forest floor. These tiny frogs are common on islands such as Nosy Be and Nosy Tanginely.
An expert of disguise, the Leaf-Tailed Gecko is in the perfect position for ambush. No fly, weevil or mantis could escape those lichen covered jaws of death.
Lord Leaf Tail
Like the Eye of Sauron a gecko opens his jupiter-esque orb to peer through the undergrowth. Leaf Tail geckos are superb spies.