Manahòana from Madagascar!

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My much anticipated second trip to the island country of Madagascar has finally arrived. In Madagascar for my doctoral research, the exciting part is the exploration of the flora and fauna unique to this region. Madagascar is home to more than 10,000 species of plants, 80% of which are found nowhere else in the world.  

Nothing describes this uniqueness more than the observation made by Philibert Commerson (1727-1773), one of the earliest natural explorers of the country:

'May I announce to you that Madagascar is the naturalist’s promised land? Nature seems to have retreated there into a private sanctuary, where she could work on different models from any she has used elsewhere. There you meet bizarre and marvelous forms at every step…'

Manahòana is hello in Malagasy, the language of the Malagasy people which has an Indonesian origin. The Malagasy culture has strong influences from Indonesian/Malaysian and African settlers. In addition to Malagasy, French is spoken in the highly populated capital city of Antananarivo (Tana).

Walking though the streets of Tana today, I can’t help but notice the cultural diversity of this city. The traffic is horrendous with street vendors peddling their wares to anyone that they can get their attention of. Mangoes are in season with a multitude of varieties on display. The hillsides are dotted purple with the Jacaranda in full bloom. Other flowering trees I recognize are the orange blooms of Erythrina and Spathodea campanulata.

I head off on field work tomorrow to the humid evergreen forest in the eastern part of the country. Staying in Ranomafana, I will be collecting leaf specimens of two different species of wild coffee (Coffea spp.) from the Coffee Research Station's field genebank run by FOFIFA (National Center of Applied Research and Rural Development) and from the nearby forests.

Category: 
At the Gardens

Comments

Sarada Krishnan
Hello Linda, James & PK, Thanks for you comments. I got back from my first field site visit yesterday and am heading to Ft. Dauphin at the southern tip of the country for my second site visit tomorrow. My last visit was to the humid evergreen forest and this time I will be visiting the coastal littoral forest. Unfortunately, I still have not figured out how to download photos from my camera to the computer here. As soon as I get that figured, I will post more pictures, otherwise I'll have to hold off until I get back. Veloma (Good-bye)!
Linda Maich
Hello Sarada, It sounds like you're having a very interesting adventure. I'll have to go home and look at a map and see exactly where you are. How is the food, and are your accomodations suitable? Do you end up drinking a lot of coffee on the job? Have a great time, and we'll see you soon. Linda Maich
James Mann
Manahòana Sarada We don't get to travel too far away from home, we live in Canada and usually only get to go to the states to get away from the cold of winter but once my wife retires we will start traveling around the globe a bit more. I would love to visit Madagascar. It would have been great to see some pictures of the flora and fauna there.
Anand Kumar
Hello Sarada I assume that you are formerly from Alleppey, Kerala. I studied with you during the pre-degree days or more likely went for the same tuition classes. It has been a long while and am glad to see that you are having a fulfilling career. If you have a minute, drop a line. Regards Anand Kumar
Panayoti Kelaidis
Yes! Yes! More pictures: what a great shot of the Market. I had no idea there were that many species there: how great to have you there. All quiet on the home front (if one ignores the beeping of trucks and heavy machinery in the parking lot...). Hope you find lots of Coffee in the forests!

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