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Birdwatching in Madagascar

Madagascar's biodiversity with its unique fauna and flora, complex traditions and culture are remarkable making it one of the most important countries in the planet.
The island has a diversity of habitats and associated flora such as rainforest in the east, dry deciduous forest in the north and the spiny forest in the south. Along with swamps and mountain tops with different rock formations (TSINGY of BEMARAHA, sandstone massif of ISALO, granitic mountain of ANDRINGITRA) it's unique habitat is on the list for any birder.
Madagascar offers you about 204 breeding species of birds including 120 endemic species which is a very high degree of endemism for Africa. The endemics are divided in 6 unique families: Vanga, Mesites, Ground Roller, Cuckoo Roller, Asiteis and Warblers.

"The Spiny forest of Ifaty"


Other wildlife of interest - 100% of the Lemurs in the world, - 6 endemic species of Baobabs out of 8 existing, - 98% of native Amphibians and Reptiles are only found in this country and maybe the best known are the Chameleons, - Countless insects such as the bizarre Giraffe-necked Weavel.
Welcoming people are composed of 18 different tribes and with very diverse customs (mixture of Africa and Asia).
Beach resorts and marine reserves along its coastline.


Electronic map of Madagascar

Tour I
19 day birdwatching tour to Madagascar.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Antananarivo.
Arrival at Ivato, Tana International Airport.
After custom clearance, I will meet you outside with your name on a sign.
Transfer to the hotel, then mid afternoon visit of the Alarobia Lake. A private property in the middle of the city with a big colony of ducks, herons and egrets.
A good introduction to the Malagasy birds.
Possible species: White-faced Whistling Duck, Red-billed Teal, Knob-billed Duck, Common Squacco Heron, Madagascar Squacco Heron, Dimorphic Egret, Swamp Warbler, Manikin, Fody, Kestrel, Madagascar Coucal, Madagascar White-eye, Madagascar Wagtail, Yellow-billed Kite, Mascarene Martin, Madagascar Kingfisher.
Overnight at Sakamanga hotel.

"Running Cuoa"



Day 2 and 3 - Antananarivo/Diego Suarez/Amber Mountain.
Fly to Diego Suarez on the northern tip of the island. Then an hour drive to the rainforest of Amber Mountain and on the way you may see your first chameleon (The bright Panther Chameleon).
Target species.
Birds: Pitta like Ground Roller, Crested Ibis, the only sight for Amber Mountain Rock Thrush, Cuckoo Roller, Souimanga Sunbird, Madagascar Buzzard, Blue Vanga, White-headed Vanga, Chabert Vanga, Tylas Vanga, Red-fronted Coua, Blue Coua, Pygmy Kingfisher, Spectacle Greenbull, White-throated Rail, Crested Drongo, Blue Pigeon, Lesser and Greater Vasa Parrot, Rainforest Scops Owl.
Reptiles: Blue-nosed Chameleon, Leaf-tailed Geckos, Big Madagascar Day Gecko, Madagascar Tree Boa and different varieties of Malagasy Tree Frogs.
Lemurs: Sanford’s Brown Lemur, Crowned Lemur, Pale Fork-marked Lemur.
Overnight at Nature lodge.
Day 4, 5 and 6 - Amber Mountain/Diego Suarez/Tana/Perinet.
Leaving Amber Mountain we drive back to Diego Suarez and fly back to Tana.
We then drive eastward to Perinet raiforest where you will spend 3 Nights.
We will try to complete the list of birds that we missed up north, get a better view of some species and new birds such as Nelicourvi Weaver, Short-legged Ground Roller, Rufous-headed Ground Roller, Scaly Ground Roller, Velvet Asity, Common Sunbird Asity, Tylas Vanga, Hook-billed Vanga, Frances and Madagascar Sparrow Hawk, Paradise Flycatcher, Madagascar Bee-eater, Madagascar Flufftail, Long-eared Owl, Collared Nightjar and more.
We will bird in the morning as well as nocturnal.
Reptiles: Parson’s Chameleon, Short-horn Chameleon, Pale-bellied Chameleon, different varieties of Malagasy Tree Frogs and Madagascar Tree Boa.
Lemurs: Indri the largest of all lemurs, Common Brown Lemur, Bamboo Lemur, Woolly Lemur, Diademned Sifaka, Black and White Ruffed Lemur, Brown Mouse Lemur, Hairy-eared Dwarf Lemur.
Overnight at Feon'ny ala hotel.

"Coquerel's Sifaka"

Day 7 - Perinet/Tana.
Morning expedition in the Perinet Rainforest and in the afternoon we will return to Tana.
Overnight at Sakamanga hotel.
Day 8 - Tana/Ampijoroa.
Fly to Majunga and then drive straight to Ampijoroa. Arriving at the camp area you can easily bird with a good chance to see Sickle-billed Vanga, White-headed Vanga, Blue Vanga, Grey-headed Lovebird, Hoopoe, Banded Kestrel, Sakalava Weaver, Magpie Robin and more.
During the nightwalk you will look for Western Scops Owl, Madagascar Nightjar, Golden Mouse Lemur, Western Woolly Lemur, Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur, Milne Edward's Sportive Lemur and Rhino Chameleon.
Overnight at Gite of Ampijoroa

"Madagascar Nightjar"


Day 9 - Ampijoroa.
Birding in the morning we will look for Shlegel’s Asity, White-breasted Mesite, Van Dam’s Vanga, Rufous Vanga, Red-capped Coua, Coquerel’s Coua, Cuckoo Roller, Madagascar Sparrow Hawk, Madagascar Buzzard, Crested Coua, Madagascar Button Quail, Madagascar Green Sunbird, Long-billed Greenbull, Banded Kestrel and more.
Returning you can enjoy the Coquerel’s Sifakas dancing by the campsite.
In the afternoon we will bird Lake Ravelobe looking for Madagascar Fish Eagle, Madagascar Jacana, Allen’s Gallinule, White-throated Rail, Glossy Ibis, African Darter, White-faced Whistling Duck, Purple Heron, Humblot’s Heron and more.
Overnight at Gite of Ampijoroa.
Day 10 - Ampijoroa/Majunga.
In the morning we will bird for the ones we missed and check out a nearby lake looking for Pygmy Geese and probable Painted Snipe.
We then drive to Majunga spending the afternoon by the hotel.
Overnight at Antsahanitia Resort.
Day 11 - Majunga/Betsiboka/Tana.
Morning boat trip to the Betsiboka Delta to get the scarce Bernier’s Teal and White Ibis along with other shore birds such as Terek Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Sanderling, Lesser Crested Tern, Sandwich tern and more.
Returning to Majunga we catch the evening flight to Tana.
Overnight at Sakamanga hotel.
Day 12 - Tana/Tulear/Ifaty.
We will catch a flight to Tulear at the southeast coast and then drive to the spiny forest of Ifaty home of the Long-tailed Ground Roller, Subdesert Mesite, Running Coua, Green-capped Coua, Thamnornis Warbler, Lafresney’s Vanga, Archbold Newtonia, Madagascar Plover, Green Pigeon, Madagascar Harrier Hawk and more.
Overnight at la Mira Hotel.
Day 13 - Ifaty.
We will spend the day in the spiny forest to get the target birds and to admire this unique spiny forest with its astonishing vegetation such as Baobabs, Pachypodium, Didiera and Octopus plant.
If you want to you can go snorkelling, when it gets hot in the forest or go strolling in the nearby fishing village.
Along the coast at low tide you can get all sea birds such Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Kitlitzi’s Plover, Crab Plover, Green-backed Heron and more.
Overnight at la Mira Hotel.
Day 14 - Ifaty/Tulear/Isalo.
Leaving Ifaty we have about 6 hours drive to Isalo with a stop at Zombitse Forest looking for Appert’s Greenbull, Giant Coua, day roost of White-bowed Owl, Lesser Cuckoo, Common Neatonia and Hubbard’s Sportive Lemur.
Overnight at Isalo ranch.
Day 15 - Isalo.
In the morning we will try to find Madagascar Partridge and Forest Rock Thrush. We will then visit the Maky Canyons looking for Ring-tailed Lemur and the Verraux Sifaka in their natural habitat.
Overnight at Isalo ranch.
Day 16 - Isalo/Tulear.
Returning to Tulear in then afternoon we will bird the bush shrub of laTable looking for Red-shouldered Vanga and Verraux Coua.
Overnight at Chez Alain.
Day 17 - Tulear/Anakao.
If we missed the Red-shouldered Vanga we will try again before taking a speed boat to the isolated sacred islet fo Nosy Ve (1h30 by boat) where you will see the Red-tailed Tropicbird resident colony.
At low tide, shore birds like Lesser Crested and Greater Crested Tern, Sandwich Tern, Saunder's Tern, Crab Plover, Sanderling and Black Egret.
Returning to the fishing village of Anakao on the mainland, you will enjoy a close up view of the Littoral Rock-thrush at our hotel's backyard and later relax on the beach.
Overnight at Safari Vezo.
Day 18 - Anakao/Tulear/Tana.
Leave Anakao after breakfast, sail back to Tulear and transfer to the airport for your flight back to Tana.
Overnight at Sakamanga hotel.
Day 19 - Anakao/Tulear/Tana.
Transfer you to the international airport for your flight home and end of trip.


19 Days tour price is:
2 pax 7250 Euros per person double room.
4 pax 4950 Euros per person double room.

680 Euros single supplement.


Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice. Included:
Accomodation on double or twin occupancy on a half board basis. Hotel taxes, all internal flights involved in this itinerary, all transfers and transportation: car, fuel, driver for the entire tour. Boat for the Betsiboka delta expedition and for Anakao/Nosy Ve area. Park entrances and local guide fees. Assistance of an English speaking guide(me) throughout the tour.
Excluded:
The tour fee do not include the international flights to and from Tana. Lunches, Beverages, Medical insurance, special gratuities, personal items such as laundry, phone calls etc.

Tour II
19 day Madagascar rarities birdwatching tour.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Antananarivo.
Arrival at Ivato, Tana International Airport.
After custom clearance, I will meet you outside with your name on a sign.
Transfer to the hotel, then mid afternoon visit of the Alarobia Lake. A private property in the middle of the city with a big colony of ducks, herons and egrets.
A good introduction to the Malagasy birds.
Possible species: White-faced Whistling Duck, Red-billed Teal, Knob-billed Duck, Common Squacco Heron, Madagascar Squacco Heron, Dimorphic Egret, Swamp Warbler, Manikin, Fody, Kestrel, Madagascar Coucal, Madagascar White-eye, Madagascar Wagtail, Yellow-billed Kite, Mascarene Martin, Madagascar Kingfisher.
Overnight at Sakamanga hotel.

"Giraffe Necked Weavel"



Day 2 - Tana/Majunga/Ampijoroa.
Fly to Majunga and then drive straight to Ampijoroa. Arriving at the camp area you can easily bird with a good chance to see Sickle-billed Vanga, White-headed Vanga, Blue Vanga, Grey-headed Lovebird, Hoopoe, Banded Kestrel, Sakalava Weaver, Magpie Robin and more.
During the nightwalk you will look for Western Scops Owl, Madagascar Nightjar, Golden Mouse Lemur, Western Woolly Lemur, Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur, Milne Edward's Sportive Lemur and Rhino Chameleon.
Overnight at Gite of Ampijoroa.
Day 3 - Ampijoroa.
Birding in the morning we will look for Shlegel’s Asity, White-breasted Mesite, Van Dam’s Vanga, Rufous Vanga, Red-capped Coua, Coquerel’s Coua, Cuckoo Roller, Madagascar Sparrow Hawk, Madagascar Buzzard, Crested Coua, Madagascar Button Quail, Madagascar Green Sunbird, Long-billed Greenbull, Banded Kestrel and more. Returning you can enjoy the Coquerel’s Sifakas dancing by the campsite. In the afternoon we will bird Lake Ravelobe looking for Madagascar Fish Eagle, Madagascar Jacana, Allen’s Gallinule, White-throated Rail, Glossy Ibis, African Darter, White-faced Whistling Duck, Purple Heron, Humblot’s Heron and more.
Overnight at Gite of Ampijoroa.
Day 4 - Ampijoroa/Majunga.
In the morning we will bird for the ones we missed and check out a nearby lake looking for Pygmy Geese and probable Painted Snipe.
We then drive to Majunga spending the afternoon by the hotel. Preparation for the Sakalava rail expedition.
Overnight at Badamier Hotel.
Day 5 - Majunga/Mitsinjo/Makary.
Take the morning ferry across the Mozambique channel towards Katsepy.(1Hour 30 minutes) and drive to Mitsinjo on the way to the Makary village by the Kinkony Lake(5 Hours).
Quick stop half way at Antongomena Bevary marsh to look for African Openbill Stork, Hamerkop, Glossy Ibis, White-faced Whistling Duck and Madagascar Jacana.
Continuing to Makary and time permitting straight to the Lake looking for Sakalava Rail, White-throated Rail, Little Bittern, Green-backed Heron and Swamp Warbler.
Overnight camping.

"Oustalet's Chameleon"

Day 6 - Makary.
Early morning start using dugout canoe we will arrive in the Phragmites swamp at sunrise where the Sakalava Sspoonbill and many more.
We will take our chances to see this rare and seldom seen Rail and if we miss it, we will try again in the afternoon.
Overnight camping..
Day 7 - Makary/Mitsinjo/Namakia/Ampitsopitsoka.
Returning to Mitsinjo on the way to Namakia port (3 Hours), where we will take canoe to Ampitsopitsoka village.
Overnight at simple bungalow in the village.
Day 8 - Ampitsopitsoka.
This site has a big colony of breeding terns and plovers and so far the best site for shore birds on the west coast. Lesser and Greater Creasted Tern, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Caspian Tern, Crab Plover, Grey Plover, Ring Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Greenshank. This location has for many years been the studying site for Birdlife Madagascar. Two rare birds such as the Bernier's Teal and White Ibis can also be found in the mangroves in this area.
Overnight at the fishing village of Ampitsopitsoka.
Day 9 - Ampitsopitsoka/Katsepy.
Leaving Ampitsopitsoka we will take the canoe back to Namakia and then drive to Katsepy. At the light house we will look for Crowened Sifaka and then continue to the hotel for a good shower and a nice dinner.
Overnight at Chez Chabeau.
Day 10 - Katsepy/Majunga/Tana.
To day we take the ferry back to Majunga and do some site seeing there. while we are waiting for the plane to Tana.
Overnight at Sakamanga hotel.
Day 11 - Tana/Maroantsetra.
We will fly to Maroantsetra in the northeastern part of the island with the largest untouched rainforest in Madagascar.
Arrive in Maroantsetra go straight to Nosy Mangabe Island. If we are lucky during the night walk, we may see Aye-Aye which has been released here.
The stop at Nosy Mangabe Island will avoid the rough afternoon sea when we go to the Masoala Peninsula. There are few birds here, but plenty to see including the weird looking Leaf-tailed Gecko and colourfull Laevigata Frog.
Overnight camping.
Day 12 - Nosy Mangabe/Masoala.
Leaving for Masoala we go straight to the park in quest of Helmet Vanga, Short-legged Ground Roller, Scaly Ground Roller, Red-breasted Coua, Crosley's bBabbler, Blue Vanga. Rufous Vanga, Pratincoles, Madagascar Bulbul, Madagascar Starling, Crested Drongo, Blue Coua, Blue Pigeon, Hook-billed Vanga, White-headed Vanga and Spectacled Greenbull.
Overnight at Tampolo Lodge.
Day 13 - Masoala.
We will spend a full day birding the park.
Overnight at Tampolo Lodge.
Day 14 - Masoala/Maroantsetra/Tana.
Returning by boat to Maroantsetra we will try to find the Tomato Frog in a town swamp and then go to the airport for the return flight to Tana.
Overnight at Sakamanga.
Day 15 - Tana/Tulear/Ifaty.
We will catch a flight to Tulear on the southeast coast and then drive to the spiny forest of Ifaty, the home to the Long-tailed Ground Roller, Subdesert Mesite, Running Coua, Green-capped Coua, Thamnornis Warbler, Lafresney’s Vanga, Archbold Newtonia, Madagascar Plover, Green Pigeon, Madagascar Harrier Hawk and more.
Overnight at La Mira.
Day 16 - Ifaty/Tulear.
We will spend the day in the spiny forest looking for target birds and to admire this unique forest with its astonishing vegetation such as Baobabs, Pachypodium, Didiera and Octopus plant.
If you want to; you can go snorkelling, when it gets hot in the forest or go strolling in the nearby fishing village.
In the nearby salt ponds we will look for the Malagasy Plover.
Along the coast at low tide you can get birds such Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Kitlitz’s Plover, Crab Plover, Green-backed Heron and more.
In the afternoon we drive back to Tulear and try to get the Red-shouldered Vanga and Verraux Coua in the bush shrub of La Table before sun sets.
Overnight at Chez Alain.
Day 17 - Tulear/Anakao.
In case we missed the Red-shouldered Vanga and Verraux Coua the day before, we will make an early morning stop at La Table before taking the boat to Anakao.
Boat transfer to Anakao with stop at Nosy Ve looking for Red-tailed Tropicbird.
Returning to the fishing village of Anakao on the mainland, you will enjoy a close up view of the Littoral Rock-thrush at our hotel's backyard and later relax on the beach.
Overnight at Safari Vezo.
Day 18 - Anakao/Tulear/Tana.
Leave Anakao after breakfast, sail back to Tulear and transfer to the airport for your flight back to Tana.
Overnight at Sakamanga hotel.
Day 19 - Anakao/Tulear/Tana.
Transfer you to the international airport for your flight home and end of trip.


19 Days tour price is:
2 pax 6850 Euros per person double room.
4 pax 4500 Euros per person double room.

650 Euros single supplement.


Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.

Included:
Accomodation on double or twin occupancy on a half board basis. Hotel taxes, all internal flights involved in this itinerary, all transfers and transportation: car, fuel, driver for the entire tour. Boat for the Betsiboka delta expedition and for Anakao/Nosy Ve area. Park entrances and local guide fees. Assistance of an English speaking guide(me) throughout the tour.
Excluded:
The tour fee do not include the international flights to and from Tana. Lunches, Beverages, Medical insurance, special gratuities, personal items such as laundry, phone calls etc.

Note: This tour is only feasible from the end of August as part of the road to Makary is not passable.

Notes:
The above birding itineraries are based on what are essentially popular routes for birders. It can be shortened or extended.
All the date of itineraries include arrival and departure dates.
All trips are available year round, but prices may be adjusted around special holidays.
Minimum lead time six (6)weeks.
To check availability for tours on short notice, fill out “Request for Quote” form with desirable dates.
Fitness:
The tour I does not present constant hardships, but there are some instances where moderate general fitness is required.
At Amber Mountain and Perinet rainforests, the walking from the road side is mostly on flat terrain but part of the forest can be on steep well marked trails. We will walk at your own pace so you can take your time without being rushed.
At Ifaty and Ampijoroa we walk on sand, which can be very arduous in the heat of the day, so it will be carried out very early in the morning before the air becomes uncomfortably hot.
The visit is usually over by mid morning and we have a relaxing time until it cools down in the afternoon.
The tour II is more for those who are willing to roughing it a little bit, and get off thre beaten track. Simple camping not in the well established African Safari, some basic hotels, walking for some distances before you reach the good birding site. There are some instances of getting in and out of boats, where a bit of wading in the sea is required.
The difference will be the type of bird species and other creatures you will not see on a general classic route.
Equipment:
Binocular of course and a telescope can be of good use sometimes even if it rarely required for our tours. Good torch, headlamp, insect repellent, sun screen, mosquito net, hiking shoes and rain gear.

Should you only need a guide for a day please send a message to Fano.   

Birding guide Fano Andrianirina, your local Birdingpal guide

38 years old naturalist guide for more than 10 years. Graduated from the University of Tana in Management and Economics. This skill allows me to be a good organization in all aspects of my tours.
I have travel extensively throughout my country and have seen all the birds of Madagascar but I also have a great interest in amphibians, reptiles as well as mammals. Fascinated by the nature and knowledgeable about the Malagasy culture.
I speak good English, French and German.
Having guided for a number of well known US and UK birding companies, I am familiar with visiting birders expectations and "Having fun with Fanu is my motto".


Testimonials.

In October 2008 I visited Madagascar for the first time and I was very fortunate to be able to hire Fano as my guide. Before my arrival, we corresponded through e-mails, and he even telephoned me in Japan two or three times to coordinate things! He is a very friendly and outgoing person, and his knowledge of the “Red Island’s” wildlife – the endemic birds and the lemurs -- is very extensive. While my companion Ponny, from Thailand, and I flew from Tana to Majunga in an hour, poor Fano came all the way there -- and all the way back -- by taxi-brousse to make sure that we were taken care of at Ampijoroa. Without his help, I would have missed several key species, so I would definitely recommend him to any visiting birdwatcher or naturalist. An always-smiling guide in the "Land of Smiles.
Chris Cook (Tokyo, Japan)
A friend and I spent a week with 'Fano' as our guide traveling all around central and southern Madagascar looking for birds, wildlife and culture. I have traveled independently in 120 countries and Fano turned out to be one of the very best guides/companions ever! He was fluent in Malagasi, German, French and his English was excellent! He seemed to know everyone wherever we went, and was extremely knowledgeable about the customs and wildlife - with an excellent eye for spotting birds and small reptiles that we missed. Moreover, and perhaps the most memorable part of the experience, was Fano's personality - he was always helpful, considerate, sensitive to our different personalities and, most importantly, always FUN! He understood the subtlties of jokes and humor and felt like a long-lasting friend after our one week. I can only give Fano the highest recommendation possible - as a human being, as a guide and as an expert on the flora and fauna of Madagascar.
I would, of course, be happy to respond to anyone's further questions re my experience with Fano in Madagascar.
Al Lunemann, Coupeville, WA, USA, techno-man(AT)coupeville.net

Some facts about Madagascar.

Off Africa’s southeast coast in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island after Greenland, New Guinea, and Borneo.(about 1,580 km long and 570 km wide. 2 ½ the size of Great Britain and a little smaller than Texas).
Braking away from the African mainland 165 million years ago a stunning diversity of plant and animal species has developed and can be found nowhere else in the world.
It has a mountainous central plateau and coastal plains.
The first settlers were of African and Asian origin, and 18 separate ethnic groups emerged, derived from an African and Malayo-Indonesian mixture.
Asian features are most predominant in the central highland people, and coastal people tend to have features of African origin.
There is one native language which is Malagasy, spoken differently depending on the regions, but every body can easily understand each other. French is spoken in most of the major cities but not in some rural areas.
Most of the population depends on subsistence farming, based on rice and zebu (the Malagasy cattle). The vanilla which grow in the northeastern part of the island, fishing (prawns and lobsters) and coffee are important exports.
It is a third world country and considered one of the poorest in the world. Some facilities like electricity depends on generators in some places and hot water is not always present in very warm places.
However at on glance you will meet happy people.
French colonial rule began in 1896 and independence came in 1960.
Christianity is the dominant organized religion with Protestant and Roman Catholic as predominant denomination, however the majority of Malagasy got their own unique form of ancestor worship which influences their everyday life.

More facts about Madagascar.

Guide books and CD’s recommended:

Ian Sinclair and Olivier Langrand, BIRDS OF THE INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS (Including MADAGASCAR) 2004. Struik Press.
Peter Morris and Frank Hawkins, BIRDS OF MADAGASCAR, a Photographic guide. 1998. New Haven: Yale Universqity Press.
Nick Garbutt. MAMMALS OF MADAGASCAR: a complete Guider. 2007. Black Publishers.
Frank Glaw and Miguel Vences. A Fieldguide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. 3 RD EDITION 2007.
Hilary Bradt. Bradt country guides: MADAGASCAR 8TH ed 2005. Bradt publications.
Lonely planet.

Bird song CD's

Bird sounds of Madagascar, Mayotte, Comoros, Seychelles, Reunion, Mauritius. author: Pierre Huguet and Claude Chappuis. publisher, SEOF.
CD Review Bird Sounds of Madagascar: an Audio Guide to the Island's Unique Birds By Frank Hawkins and Richard Ranft (2007).

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Last update 20/02/2014