In North America, when we hear about Madagascar I think that often one of our first thoughts is of lemurs! Well, I am happy to say- there really are lemurs in Madagascar! I had an unusual opportunity to go and see lemurs. I am calling it “unusual” because many, even most, people in Madagascar have never seen a lemur. The lemurs are found in national parks and zoos around the country.
Parks and zoos have entrance fees and most people are both not able to pay for a taxi to go out of town to visit a national park (because most people do not have cars or other motorized vehicles) and then also families are often not able to afford the entrance fees for parks and zoos- as high as 10,000 Ariary for one person. (For example, a “porter”- man who carries charcoal or any other item for sale, earns about 1,100 Ariary per day; a teacher earns about 12,000 Ariary per day; a pastor earns about 13,000 Ariary per week that they lead in worship) As such, many to most people who I have met who are from Madagascar have not ever seen a lemur of any kind.
One of the families who lives just across the courtyard from me has a vehicle and was going to a national park. They invited me along and I was delighted to go with them! On the appointed morning, the parents, their five children, and I climbed into their car and drove almost two hours away from Fianarantsoa to the national park of Andringita. It cost 5,900Ar in entrance fees for all of us; then also 31,000 Ar for a required guide to show us around. We parked our car and walked about twenty meters into from the car to the trees of the forest. It was just a few steps into the forest that our guide pointed upwards- LEMURS!
Right there, barely into the trees, was a family of ring-tailed lemurs. Several of them were sleeping, but the ones who were awake hopped from tree-top to tree-top! As we walked through the forest we heard lemur calls, saw several families of ring-tailed lemurs in the trees and hopping side-ways along the ground.
I was awe-struck by these unique and interesting animals as were the members of the family who I had joined on the outing! What an incredible world we live in!