The Island Of Misfit Lemurs
After lunch, Njato took me to the Lemur Reserve at Vakona. The hotel owns and operates it. It serves a couple of purposes… one, it is a place where lemurs that have been injured in the wild can come to and live out the rest of their days being taken care of. Two, it is a good place for both, the young and elderly visitors to see lemurs without having to trek through the nearby forests.
Once we arrived at the site, a guide took me across a very narrow waterway. The canoe ride was about 20 seconds in length. Lemurs are afraid of water, so they had to put in a barrier big enough preventing them from leaping or swinging across the water.
As we approached the island, four lemurs came running for us. Little did I know that my guide had a bunch of bananas in his hand.
I have mentioned in previous blogs that I am not a big fan of things that are unpredictable… fluttering birds, leaping cats, vampire bats, etc. But when in Madagascar, I knew that I must allow the lemurs to jump on me. Even though I was mentally prepared for it, I wasn’t really ready for it.
The first one was on the ground in front of me, minding its own business. Without warning, it leaped on to my chest and hung there like a baby chimp on its mother. Before I got to the island, I told myself I wouldn’t scream like a 12 year old girl if this sort of thing happened I am happy to say that I didn’t scream, but I made a horrific noise that made the guide laugh and the lemur look at me like I was crazy.
Just as soon as I go used to that one, it jumped down and went for food.
Before I knew it, three others jumped up and started to climb on my head. By this time, I accepted that this was my new normal for the next 30 minutes. All that was missing was them doing their business on me… That didn’t happen, that I know of… Mind you it was raining at the time so who knows?
Other visitors started to show up so the “Lemur Welcoming Committee of Four” went off to greet them. This gave me a chance to get up close with the others and get some good pictures.
As I left Lemur Island, I swear I could hear a voice in the distance crying out, “Nobody wants a Charlie-In-The-Box”.
Once we were back in the truck, Njato took me to the Vakona Animal Reserve, which is like a private zoo for the guests of the lodge.
There a guide took me to see the Nile Crocodiles. They have 55 of them on-site. They look like any other crocodile. By the way, alligators only exist in North America (or so that was what I was told)
I saw a Madagascar Cuckoo Roller. It is a bird that was born at the reserve. When it was old enough to be set free, they tried to send it on its way, but it kept returning to the guys that work there. It now comes when it is called.
I also saw 3 Fosa (Foo-sah). These are wild dogs that live in the forest and hunt lemurs. If any of you watched Madagascar, they are the dogs that chased Marty the Zebra. In real life, these things are kind of nasty… they are kind of a cross between a dog and a cat and a fox… Very weird.
I also saw, a Purple Heron, Tortoises, White Faced Ducks (also known as Sitting Ducks), and a boa constrictor.
While you may think that this is enough excitement for one day, be assured that they had more planned for me. I was told to go rest up because Njato was picking me up at my hotel at 615PM to go on a night trek.
You would be surprised what creatures you can find in a Madagascar forest with only a flashlight and Herman as your guide.