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Author Archive | Phil Reeks


Goodbyes, greetings and a secret from Howletts

After 2 years, 4 months and roughly 100 voluntary shifts, sadly my time as a lemur volunteer has come to an end. It has been an eventful, special and happy period of my life – I’ve been immensely lucky to get to know 18 lemurs and their characters, plus I’m proud to have raised hundreds of pounds for their conservation. Quite a lot has occurred since I lost wrote about most of Howletts’ prosimians. There have been goodbyes, greetings, and […]

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Aramis relaxing in his habitat. Photo courtesy of Phil Reeks.

Zookeeper’s Notebook: Spotlight on Black-and-White Ruffed Lemurs

It has been an eventful few months in the lemur walk-through at Howletts. With another crowned lemur born and the introduction of a black and white ruffed, there have been ten prosimians enjoying the mild weather and fruiting trees. Getting them to bed is tough when they have a permanent natural buffet on offer! In all, visitors can now hope to see 5 crowned lemurs, 3 red-bellies and 2 black and white ruffed’s (Varecia variegata). There is a hierarchy but […]

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The ringleader

Traveling to the South of Madagascar

  Continuing on from Andasibe and Ranomafana, I was sad to be leaving behind Madagascar’s rainforests. I don’t know when or where I’ll next be able to stand in awe of jungle, its sights, its sounds, its wildlife. I wasn’t quite done with lemurs though, oh no. Madagascar’s south is drier, warmer and has more of a mainland African feeling to it. This is the area where the world famous baobab trees grow, evolving perfectly to suck up and store […]

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Our blogger Phil Reeks visits Ranomafana National Park on a tour.

In Search of Ruffed Lemurs at Ranomafana National Park

  For myself the name ‘Ranomafana’ has always conjured mystical images of abrupt hills, drifting mist, dense forest and hidden lemurs. It us a must-see for any nature lover heading to Madagascar. Although my group tour didn’t allow for long within its lush confines, it at least gave me a chance to glimpse some of the island’s most rare wildlife. The omens were positive. Within a few hours of arriving in Antananarivo, I had an incredibly lucky encounter with Doctor […]

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The Gateway to Wilderness

A Day in Andasibe

Only for the Intrepid For the uninitiated Madagascar can be daunting. It’s large, busy, potentially dangerous, the roads are terrible and travelling the island solo requires both bravery and guile. Being on a tight time schedule (and being a wimp), my recent visit to the land of lemurs was with an organised tour group. This began and ended in Antananarivo with three national parks along the way and the promise of plenty of prosimians. First Up: Andasibe Andasibe is the […]

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Aprily & Kintana 2015

Zookeeper’s Notebook: Spotlight on Black Lemurs

A surprise addition – black lemurs Say it quietly, but there may be a type of lemur that loves the sun even more than ring-tails and ruffed lemurs. They are loud, brash, territorial and at times a real pain to work with—black lemurs. Since late March I have been lucky and amused to be volunteering alongside Eulemur macaco, the troublemakers of the Howletts walk-through. Like our crowned lemurs they are a family of four but with an extremely different dynamic. The […]

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King and Epi with Valana

Zookeeper’s Notebook: Spotlight on Crowned Lemurs

Following on from my article ‘Getting Started as a Volunteer Lemur Keeper’, I feel that crowned lemurs deserve a little limelight. I am very lucky to work with a family of four in Howletts’ walk-through, each with their own character and quirks. Mum & Dad Being a matriarchal species, the leader of the group is Epi. She is vocal, energetic, assertive and most importantly a loving mother. Like other lemurs, her favourite time of day is mealtime. But, she can […]

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