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The Dancing Lemurs (Verreaux’s Sifakas) of Madagascar

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dancing-lemur-verreaux-sifakaMadagascar, the Island of endemics, holds the record of endemic species. Of course, Lemurs are the most famous animals that inhabit the Island and the ones most travelers search for during a Madagascar Safari.

Of the 101 species and subspecies of Lemurs that exist (The number is approximated since scientists are still debating the taxonomy of the animal) one that most visitors expect to see in the wild during a Madagascar tour is the Verreaux’s Sifaka Lemur, also known as “dancing lemur”. They obtain this name thanks to the way they move on the earth, a very choreographed way of “walking” which is quite amusing to observe.

Details of the Dancing Lemurs

Their range includes the wet tropical rainforests to the dry spiny forests of Madagascar.

The Verreaux’s Sifaka Lemur is medium in size when compared to other species of lemurs and is the only one with hands and feet slightly webbed.

Their white body fur, black face, and big eyes make them quite attractive. They have a very long tail, up to 24 inches (longer than their body size!), that helps their balance when leaping from tree to tree, and when “dancing” on the ground.

They are about 18 inches in height when they reach maturity, and can weigh from 7 to 8 pounds with the males usually being larger than the females. They have dental differences that set them apart from other species of Lemurs.

The Verreaux’s Sifaka Lemur lives in mix groups of up to 12 individuals; 2 or 3 males, 2 or 3 females and their offsprings.

Dancing Lemur Verreaux´s Sifaka MadagascarThe female is sexually mature around the age of 3 and can have 1 (most of the time) to 2 babies per litter. The young hold on to the mother’s belly for 3 to 4 weeks and then ride on her back. It is entirely independent at seven months. Their average lifespan is 18 years.

They usually feed themselves twice a day; once in the early morning and then again in the late afternoon. They will rest during the remains of the day. They mostly eat leaves but also a variety of items including twigs, bark, nuts, and fruits.

A Vulnerable Species

The beautiful Verreaux’s Sifaka Lemur is a primate that has a grim future. Nowadays they are categorized as being vulnerable because of the quick destruction of their natural habitat that represents the major threat to them and all the lemurs in Madagascar. A good way to support this and other endangered species of Madagascar is visiting the Island. New Paths Expeditions includes in its Madagascar Expeditions the national parks and private reserves that have proven their conservation efforts success.

 

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Pantanal Expedition Reviews

“This trip exceeded all my expectations in the number of species seen and the quality of those sightings. We were not rushed and were able to “be” in the moment and appreciate the wonders of that ecosystem. This trips rates as one of my best expeditions. The weather was perfect which was an additional plus.”

Shirley Wright

 

“We were grateful for your willingness to provide a tour of Sao Paulo for us – and thrilled with the quality of the guide. Fernando was a true professional. We would be delighted to travel with him again as well.”

Nancy & John Frantz

 

“We loved Rio and the Iguassu Falls were spectacular. The guides, Marcello in Rio, and Carlos Barros at Falls were very fine. Carlos was exceptional in making the tour of the Falls about wildlife and botany as well. Accommodations were great both in Rio (Ipanema Inn) and at the Falls (Hotel das Cataratas). All good suggestions by Daniel. Many thanks for T-shirts, caps, book and map!”

Paul & Harriet Tomasko

Ethiopia Expedition Reviews

“I never once in my life dreamed of going to Ethiopia. A cancelled trip and a timely email changed that at the last minute, and it turned out to be one of the best trips of my life. New Paths Expeditions showed us the many faces of this country: the vibrant city of Addis Ababa, the ancient relics of Axum, the incredible carved churches of Lalibela, the Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana, the Gelada baboons, and the colorful tribes of the south, with their lip and ear plates. The scenery was beautiful, the food was delicious, and even I, a non-birder, enjoyed the beautiful and unique birds we spotted every day. We did not just visit the carved churches; we observed the church ceremonies for the Feast Day of St. Mary, complete with drums, colorful umbrellas, and ululating parishioners. We did not drive past a group of Gelada Baboons; we sat in their midst. We had experts in architecture and painting to instruct us and we talked to and learned from the ordinary Ethiopians every day. We shopped in local markets, even tracking down a tiny shop that sold the embroidered trim we had all been coveting. In this fascinating and diverse country, New Paths Expeditions brought us to real people and allowed us to make connections that we will never forget.”

 

Leslie Murphey
Seabrook, TX

 

“This Ethiopian trip includes all important areas and cultures, sights of historical significance with opportunities which defy description. The archeological sites are remarkable and not in your Art History class. Reading Ethiopia’s history through today is remarkable and not covered in your history classes. The guide was excellent. The people are wonderful, beautiful, happy to see tourists. Having looked at some other options for travel in Ethiopia, Jorge’s program includes every place of interest with nice accommodations and a minimum of unimproved road travel making good use of our sightseeing time. What an education and escape!”

 

Jean Krynicki
Kirkland, WA

 

“The NPE Ethiopian expedition was one of the best trips we have taken. Ethiopia is so diverse in its regions and we pretty much covered all of them with NPE. The most exciting part of the trip is that each and every day was a new experience, and we were anxious to see what the next days would bring. The countryside changed the people and the architectural sites. Traveling over land, we were able to see a lot of the land. The accommodations were better than we expected! And of course, the southern trip to see various tribes was outstanding. At first, we were skeptical about making the journey, but now we classify it as one of our best experiences!”

 

J & D Kehl
Louisville, CO

 

“Ethiopia is truly an enchanted country with warm friendly people. The diversity of cultures is amazing. New Paths Expeditions did a wonderful job of making sure our experiences were the best possible. From the north of the country to the southern part of the country the trip is awe inspiring. The best!”

 

Charlene Price
La Jolla, CA

The Hood Lava Lizard

Microlophus delanonis lava lizard

The Hood Lava Lizard or Española Lava Lizard (Microlophus delanonis) is one of the nine different endemic species of Lava Lizard from the Galapagos. This lizard is special because his ancestor was the first to colonize the archipelago, between 3.7 to 1.4 million years ago. Is easy to find them taking a sunbathing at noon or doing push-ups above rocks. This red coloration is typical in females. In contrast, the males have a brownish coloration and a black dewlap.

The Red-fronted Lemur

lemur-madagascar

 

The Red-fronted lemur is medium-sized lemur with a long tail, the red-fronted lemur (Eulemur rufifrons) differs in appearance between the sexes. Although the male and female don’t differ in size, the male red-fronted lemur exhibits a gray to grey-brown coat with a bushy reddish-brown crown on the head, while the female has a reddish-brown coat and a dark crown. Both sexes have paler underparts, white patches above the eyes, and a black muzzle, often with a dark line extending up onto the crown.

The ears of the red-fronted lemur are not prominent, and its eyes are usually orange-red. All infant red-fronted lemurs show male colouration for the first three to four months of life.

Until recently, the red-fronted lemur was considered to be a secondary name for the red-fronted brown lemur (Eulemur rufus), which was itself previously considered to be a subspecies of the brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus). However, evidence now strongly suggests that the red-fronted lemur is a distinct species.

Galapagos Marine Iguana

Galapagos Marine Iguana

In Galapagos, you will see Marine Iguana, which .is one of the few species of Lizards that will forage around the sea, and that is classified as a marine reptile. They are capable of diving down up to 30 feet into the water to find food and have a natural ability to swim and to move around with speed.

The body of this species of Lizard ranges from black to a light shade of gray. They may be thought of as different Lizard species when someone sees the different colors of them but they are all the same. The darker colors help them to be able to get more sunlight and that helps with their body temperature.

The body is covered with short spikes on the head and all down the back. This serves to deter various predators and even other types of Lizards. This gives them a mean look though which is ironic as they are very timid and shy for the most part. They have webbing between their toes that allow them to move around with ease in the water.

The males are longer than the females with a size of about 5 ½ feet. The females are about 2 feet shorter. In the water, they are fast and graceful but movement on land is clumsy and takes lots of energy for the Galapagos Marine Iguana. You will notice that they have dorsal fins and a long tail.

These features of the body allow them to move in the water with little energy being expended. They use their sharp claws to help them when the current is heavy and when they need to get onto land.

Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill

ethiopian-bird

Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill also nicknamed “flying banana” because of its beak Physical

Eastern yellow-billed hornbills have black wings with white spotted wing-coverts. They have a black tail and large yellow beak with slight casque. They have black, bare skin around the eye and males have a pink skinned throat. They grow up to 16-18” in length and weigh up 6 to 10 ounces. Its diet is mainly based on seeds, small insects, spiders, scorpions, termites and ants

Habitat & Range: North-eastern Africa, they live in dry thorn fields, broad-leafed woodlands, forests, savannahs, and shrublands

Life Span: various sources estimate from 20-40 years in the wild, 50 in captivity.

Perils in the wild: Crowned eagles, leopards, chimpanzees, humans, habitat destruction

Physical Adaptations:

– Strong beak to crack seeds, and find insects

– Hornbills have huge, two-tiered beaks that cause the birds to appear top-heavy. The bill is long forming dexterous forceps. The cutting edges are serrated for breaking up food.

– The hornbill is one of the few birds that have eyelashes to shield them from sun, dust, and debris. Their eyelashes are modified feathers.

– Stocky body has air sacs under the skin over the back and shoulder area which may cushion the female from injury in her cramped nest

– The tail is utilized as a rudder in flight. It also serves as a prop, bracing the male while he clings to the nest-hole entrance.

– Strong feet provide a secure grip, particularly for the male as he perches to feed his mate through the slit in the nest hole.

– Only bird group (hornbills) in which the first two neck vertebrae are fused to support the skull

White-eared jacamar

White-eared jacamar

White-eared jacamar from Amazon Peru

 

The White-eared Jacamar is the geographically more widespread of the two species that comprise the genus Galbalcyrhynchus, which is restricted to western Amazonia. The other species, the Purus Jacamar (Galbalcyrhynchus purusianus), substitutes the White-eared Jacamar to the south of its range. As its name suggests, the White-eared Jacamar’s most striking plumage feature is the conspicuous white ear coverts-patch, and this instantly distinguishes the present species from its only congeneric. Both species are otherwise chunky-bodied, broad-winged, and short-tailed jacamars, with overall reddish-chestnut plumage. The White-eared Jacamar ranges from southern Colombia south to northeast Peru, and east through western Brazil, at least as far as the confluence of the Rio Solimões with the Rio Purus. It inhabits lowland primary forest, both terra firme and seasonally flooded areas, and is usually easily seen due to its liking for clearings and other semi-open areas, often beside rivers and streams.

Ranitomeya Imitator Varadero

frog-amazon-peru

Varadero morph

This is another lowland form of imitator, first discovered in 2004 by Craig Greenhalgh on a lowland trek across part of Peru. This species is strange in that it occurs in close proximity to the yellow-striped lowland imitator with no major barriers separating the two morphs. And as is apparent, the two morphs look nothing alike. This infers that the frog has undergone strong local adaptation, either due to mimicry, sexual selection, or a combination of the two. In 2005, we were able to find this frog in very high densities in old secondary/young primary forest breeding in some sort of Heliconia, as well as in tree-holes. This morph was heavily smuggled from 2006 to present, although it is now legally available through imports from Understory Enterprises. This morph appears to be a mimic of the “orange-and-blue” fantastica morph.

Sparkling Violetear Hummingbird

Sparkling-violetear-hummingbird-machu-picchu-cuzco-peru

 

The sparkling violetear hummingbird (Colibri coruscans) is widespread in highlands of northern and western South America, including a large part of the Andes (from Argentina and northwards), the Venezuelan Coastal Range and the Tepuis. It occurs in a wide range of semi-open habitats, even in gardens and parks within major cities such as Quito, and is often the commonest species of hummingbird in its range. The sparkling violetear is most abundant near coniferous or evergreen eucalyptus forests. It is highly vocal and territorial.

The sparkling violetear is the largest violetear at 13 to 15 cm (5–6 in) long. Male birds weigh 7.7 to 8.5 grams (0.27 to 0.3 oz) while females weigh from ounces 6.7 to 7.5 grams (0.24 to 0.26 oz). This hummingbird resembles the green violetear, but that species generally prefers more humid habitats, is obviously smaller and lacks the distinct purple-blue chest-spot and chin of the sparkling violetear. According to it has the smallest mean blood-air barrier thickness (0.183 µm) and the highest mass-specific respiratory surface area in birds (87 cm²/g).

Sparkling violetears are solitary and aggressive. Birds declare their territory by singing. The birds sing much of the day, and (in different parts of their range) sub-groups develop their own calls. Breeding seasons vary by region. Birds in Venezuela mate from July through October. Birds find mates at leks, areas where groups of males try to attract a female to mate. After mating, the male was once believed to leave all nesting responsibilities to the female. However, according to reports, male sparkling violet-ears were seen twice caring for their young. The mother lays two eggs in a tiny, cup-shaped nest made of twigs and other plant material. Eggs hatch in 17 to 18 days. The young fledge in three weeks.