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Image of The Month | January 2019

Madagascar, often referred to as the 8th Continent due to its abundant variety of unique fauna and flora, is quite simply one of those places that every nature enthusiast must visit at some point in their life. From leaping lemurs and exotic birds to crazy insects and an abundance of ridiculously sized chameleons, Madagascar is an evolutionary wonderland of the most immense proportion.

Sadly, the wonders of Madagascar are under extreme threat, and the island’s extraordinary biodiversity is at risk of being lost forever. Continued illegal logging and a growing population that is largely dependent on charcoal for energy means that the last remaining intact habitat for wildlife is under extreme pressure, and many species are now on the brink of extinction. In fact, we already know of at least 17 species and 8 genera that are believed to have become extinct since the arrival of humans on the island roughly 2,000 years ago. Many of these species were large, with some weighing an estimated 200kg! The largest species, a type of giant sloth lemur, was larger than a female gorilla.

Fortunately, we have seen the mass habitat destruction decrease appreciably over the last 25 years, and while the remaining resources are under pressure, much has been protected in national parks and other reserves. Another positive factor is the effect that eco-tourism has had on the country, where many local people have seen a meaningful change for the better. Here, locals have the opportunity to add value for visiting tourists that are keen on seeing all sorts of creatures, from lemurs and birds to trees, frogs, insects, orchids, chameleons and so much more. The increase in tourism also leads to more lodging requirements, and these in turn supply employment opportunities to the local community. There are many other positive influences that eco-tourism has had within the country, but the reality is that without it a lot of what can be seen today would probably cease to exist.

While tourists visit Madagascar for many different reasons, most would certainly list seeing a lemur as a major priority. These adorable creatures have a lot of personality and most people certainly associate these incredible animals strongly with their thoughts of Madagascar. Currently, there are 115 lemur species recognised, and the number is growing almost every year. Many of these species are highly localised and, sadly, over 80% are listed as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable! Thankfully, seeing a wide variety of lemur species, including many that are severely threatened, in the country’s protected reserves is not too difficult, and on our regular 12-day tour we often find over 20 different species!

Our featured image this month is the dapper Verreaux’s Sifaka, one of several phenomenal lemur species that we are likely to find on our tours. This particular species is well-known for its bipedal movements when crossing open ground, which makes them look as though they are dancing. Found in the south of the country in pockets of dry deciduous woodland and spiny forest, it is now listed as endangered according to the IUCN Red Data List. Getting to spend time with this beautiful species and many others are just a handful of the incredible experiences that Madagascar is likely to produce. Below is a list of the top 10 wildlife sightings from our most recent trip in November 2018. We feel it really reflects the exceptional diversity of what Madagascar has to offer.

1. Watching a pair of singing Indri – the largest of all extant lemurs.
2. Time spent with a nesting pair of Scaly Ground Rollers.
3. The exceptionally brightly coloured Baron’s Mantella.
4. A very close encounter with a Greater Hedgehog Tenrec on one of our many night walks.
5. The ‘dancing’ Verreaux’s Sifakas.
6. A handful of minute Goodman’s Mouse Lemurs – one of the smallest of all primates.
7. Comical, and confiding, family groups of the iconic Ring-tailed Lemur.
8. Finding the critically endangered Madagascan Fish Eagle.
9. A duo of impressive Giant Hog-nosed Snakes.
10. The striking Madagascan Paradise Flycatcher, including both rufous and pied forms.

We offer a number of exceptional Madagascar options, including our regular 12-day scheduled tour which can be increased to 16 days by adding our Ranomafana Extension.

Join a Rockjumper Wildlife adventure today and you will discover more.

Madagascar – Wildlife of a Magical Island 
8 – 19 Nov 2019 (12 days)
Tour Price: US$5,250 

Madagascar – Ranomafana Extension 
19 – 23 Nov 2019 (5 days)
Tour Price: US$1,850

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JR - Private Rwanda

Trip has been wonderful! Dale is second to none! Really thrilled to have him and Eric (driver)!

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LH - Best of Botswana & Vic Falls 17

We were very lucky to have such knowledgeable guides, Shadow had the ability to place us in the right spot at the right time when other guides were still thinking about it. It was nice just to sit and observe the interactions.
Great tour, the mix of participants also worked well. Many eyes help spot things which might otherwise be missed (back seats are higher and sometimes you just catch a glimpse that the front seat people miss).

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EB - Best of Botswana & Vic Falls 17

Great communications and customer service.
One of the best trips I’ve been on. The sightings were fantastic, Andre was great, the food phenomenal and the support staff exceptional!
Andre was an excellent guide in all regards and made sure everything went smoothly.

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I.T - Best of Botswana & Vic Falls 17

The tour was excellent. The staff from the Safari company were also excellent.

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LH - Tailor-made South Africa & Botswana October 2018

I want to thank all of you at Rockjumper who worked to give me and my six friends the trip of a lifetime! The trip was perfectly planned; we saw a wonderful array of sights in perfect settings and lodgings all throughout the thirteen days. Logistically, everything worked like clockwork and it took all the stress out of traveling.

But without a doubt, what made the trip so incredibly special was our tour guide/leader, Rainer Summers. He not only lead us to the sights, through airports and into the bush but he managed to keep us all together, without losing anyone for more than five minutes – and I can assure you: that was not an easy task. (We really are not senile – just a bit independent).

His knowledge of what we saw and where to take us, especially in Cape Town improved our experience greatly. His knowledge of the wildlife and its social structure and behavior at Mala Mala and in Botswana increased our appreciation of what we saw exponentially. Nothing was too much trouble whether it was showing us how to use binoculars or camera or how to spot birds.

He also made sure that everyone was comfortable and at ease in all situations. He anticipated everyone’s needs and he ensured that we all had what we needed and/or wanted everywhere.

But most of all, Rainer was delightful to be with. He was fun and his wit and sense of humor made him a great companion. He is a tremendous asset to your organization. We all would like to return to Africa and Rockjumper’s tours but we will want to have no one but Rainer with us!!! We cannot envision a tour leader who could top this experience.

So, thank you for arranging the tour and a special thanks for choosing Rainer to be our guide. It was a magnificent experience and a week later, I am still wishing I was in Africa!

Sincerely,
LH

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