On our journey over the Red Island, we have had the opportunity to see various types of lemurs. In some cases, we were very lucky to do so. After visiting the Great Tsingy in western Madagascar, we walk back to the car park when our guide points high in the tree: we see a brown lemur on a branch. I still do not understand how he was able to know; he told me it was the sound he was making. Shortly thereafter, we spot two Decken's sifaka, a special kind of lemur, in a tree, much closer. The primates seem as curious about us as we are about them. Is their thick white fur not too hot for this climate? They look comfortable though, and we take our time to look at them, moving fast through the trees and over the ground, climbing in the trees, clinging to a trunk, with their innocent faces and round eyes. Very cute!
Our next encounter is at Namaza camp in Isalo National Park. We arrive a little late in the afternoon, and have the luck to see redfronted brown lemurs, another sifaka, and ringtailed lemurs climbing so fast through the trees, it is almost impossible to follow them. They disappear quite soon, and I am back the next afternoon to only see the redfronted brown lemurs. Then, we head to the small reserve at Anja, where it is certain to see ringtailed lemurs, or lemur catta. We see several groups, first high up in the tree, sunning themselves on the branches, and then descending to drink water in the lake. They are not shy at all, and jump just over our heads on the way to a rock or branch. We then see them in guava trees, chewing on the fruits they apparently love. By now, we learn to mimick their special sounds, and try to communicate with them.
The last occasion we have to spot lemurs is in Ranomafana National Park, where we again are helped by a special spotter who walks ahead in the rainforest. Here, no sounds of lemurs, much more vegetation, and the first lemurs we spot, the golden bamboo lemur, are high up in the tree and hardly visible. We get lucky at the second occasion: two rare greater bamboo lemurs sit on a branch, until one decides to come down after our spotter throws a chunk of bamboo on the ground. These lemurs indeed eat mostly bamboo, and this particular one apparently is used to visitors: we can touch him when he is on the ground. Sad thing is: there is only one older male and his daughter, which means that this particular type of lemur will likely disappear from Ranomafana (even though we learn that the lifespan of a lemur can be around 45 years). A little higher up, we see several Milne-Edward's sifakas in the tree. Much bigger and easier to spot, these black and white sifakas hang in the tree and socialize with each other, until they decide to take off and disappear into the thick canopy of the rainforest. The spotter sees a lesser bamboo lemur, but it is so fast that I miss it. The memories of all our encounters with the primates unique to Madagascar will remain with us for a long time. Apart from being cute, they are intriguing: sometimes looking or moving like a cat, then like a monkey, or a rodent. Always those irresistible, round eyes.
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