Mountains, monsoons and mosquitoes: highlights from amphibian biologist Dr Jodi Rowley's diary of her recent field trip to Central Vietnam.
Our team has grown. Along with a skilled ranger from the National Park, we’ve been joined by some men from the local village (from the Ba Na ethnic group). They have an intimate knowledge of the forest, and without their help on the trip, we'd quite literally be lost.
The Ba Na men drove us, two or three per motorbike, to the “end of the road”, where we took to foot. We walked on a narrow path through the forest for less than an hour until we reached a small clearing in the forest, and a wooden hut. This hut will be our "base-camp" in the forest, thanks to Frankfurt Zoological Society, who support primate research in the National Park.
Our plan is to make expeditions from the hut in the valley up to the surrounding mountains (with the expert help of our Ba Na guides- it isn't easy to find your way to a distant mountain peak and back in a night, even with the assistance of GPS). I feel like I’m “cheating” staying in a hut, but I’m also quite relieved. We’re at about 1000 m elevation, the forest is good (especially for being so close to villages), and having a roof over my hammock in the monsoon season is an amazing luxury.
For our first night we survey upstream from the hut, in the thickly forested valley. It’s really exciting on the first night- being in a new place and seeing what frogs are around. The most common of all is a medium-sized green or brown cascade frog (belonging to the genus Odorrana). Males chirp from the thick vegetation around the stream.