Julia has been our Terrestrial Science Officer here on the island of Nosy Komba, Madagascar, for the last six months – what has she made of it?
Julia came to us in May as our Terrestrial Science Officer swapping the Alps for the forests of Nosy Komba. As you’ll see below, this place wasn’t exactly as Julia expected. We are so sad to see her go, this place will certainly be less without her but we can’t wait to see what she does next. It will, no doubt, be remarkable.
My name is Julia, I am 26 years old. I come from France (the Alp mountains) close to Switzerland.
- When did you arrive here?
I arrived on the 26th of March in Madagascar, in Nosy Be. I’ve been here for six months now.
- What did you expect before you left? When you were waiting at the airport, what did you expect to find?
A great job with amazing wildlife, biodiversity, incredible forest and jungle… yeah, something amazing and beautiful. I was not really expecting anything from or wondering about people. I wasn’t scared but I was just thinking, people and volunteers are not my expectation, not why I came here. I came here to work on and study the wildlife on Nosy Komba and Madagascar, so I just had this thing in mind that I will have to also deal with people, this small community in Turtle Cove and volunteers without it being one of my goals, just one of my duties.
- Is it as you expected?
In part yes. I’ve found amazing wildlife, beautiful jungle and I’ve really loved my job. It was amazing to improve the forest project here and to study lemurs in a scientific way and, as the logistics here allowed us, tried to build something strong and great for publication and research. But I also realised I shouldn’t be scared to be with people here because it’s definitely the best of my experience here, local people who are also a beautiful part of Nosy Komba and I’ve met people in camp, when at the beginning I was probably scared of human beings and now I am so glad to meet them.
- Do you feel different leaving to when you came?
Yeah! I’m really happy for that. I’m excited because I found something. I was thinking before “you will never be able to behave like that” or just to be interested, and I was proud of that like just, “I don’t care for people”. It’s great and now I just find that you can care about wildlife and biodiversity but you can also really care about people and that’s really, really cool and I’m really excited for that because I don’t want to lose that. It will change a lot of things. I am definitely really excited for what’s after. Yes.
- Are the lemurs as you expected to find them?
No, they are a lot cooler. They are really funny animals. I love primates and they are really interesting, they are really nice and it’s amazing how they tolerate disturbances around. They are on a really small island, there is a lot of clearing around, a lot of disturbance in the habitat and they are still here, chilling out, curious, just close to the village sometimes and really wild some other days, just dealing with people of Nosy Komba in their jungle.
- Of all the times during your six months, are there any moments that stand out for you? When you’re back at home and you’re thinking about your time on Nosy Komba, are there any funny moments or particular forest walks that will stick in your mind?
Yes. It will be difficult to remember everything because there is a lot of great moments but I trust my brain and my memory and I’m sure I’ll remember the most important and incredible moments that I had here.
- Can you recall some now?
- Who is Jimmy?
Jimmy is the lemur guide, but he’s just a really cool guy. He’s a great, great man who comes from the forest and decided to stay away from his father and mother because he just knew he belonged to the forest so he just wants to stay there even if he is only with… he is still with family, his grandfather, grandmother, wife and son, but he is away from all of them and of course, he misses his family a lot but he is so happy to be in the forest working with the lemurs because he loves it.
He helps us so much, he’s creating awareness with locals who live with them, he changes their mind. Now when he looks for lemurs in the evening for us, there’s always some young guy (brother, uncle) who helps him. He said himself that he’s amazed and surprised by how things have changed in the last few years. People were hunting lemurs and now they are careful with them. There is still some threat to them but they are just more interested. They realise how interesting they are to observe and to study.
He’s a boy who enjoys life and enjoys time on his balcony in his beautiful new house he just finished a few weeks ago. It faces a view… I’ve never seen something so amazing. Jimmy’s a really clever guy.