December 7, 2015
Madagascar’s Singing Lemur
- as seen by -Alison Clausen @WCS_Madahttp://madagascar.wcs.org
As a conservationist working in Madagascar, I am often asked which is my favorite lemur species: the cuddly black and white ruffed lemur which looks like a stuffed toy hanging out in the tree branches, the charismatic and bolshie ring-tailed lemur, the witch-like aye aye with its long, clawed forefinger? My favorite is, in fact, the Indri indri – the largest of Madagascar’s living lemur species, and one that will always hold a special significance for me.
On my first trip to Madagascar in 2004, my first weekend was spent in a lodge on the edge of the Perinet Special Reserve near Andasibe, around three hours from Antananarivo, the capital city. Around five a.m., I was awoken to a beautiful, yet eerie, sing-song chorus made by a group of indris. They must have been a good mile away, but it sounded as if they were perched on my window sill. The early morning choral spectacle was followed by a hike to observe a group of indris basking in the sun and eating fruits, entirely oblivious to the trekkers gathered around in awe underneath the tree.
A trip to Andasibe is a “must-do” for any visitor to Madagascar, and over the past 11 years, I have been back too many times to count with friends, with family, and with work colleagues. In all of these visits, the early morning chanting of the indri is just as special and a potent reminder to me of why I am in Madagascar, and why I do the work I do.