The operatic and mournful Indri songs, akin to a whale’s vocals, punctuated by crackling of twigs under our footsteps, put us into a trance. Our walk through the rain forest was overwhelmed with the smell of bark, moss and leaves. If it were not for the trails, exploring the Mantadia National Park, Andasibe, Madagascar would be difficult. Thank God, it was not monsoon!
We came across a trio of diurnal Woolly lemurs. Like sloths, they were full of energy! Virginie said that they were a couple with their juvenile offspring. These brown unwashed teddies did raise our hopes of spotting an Indri.
Aina, our grumpy guide for the previous evening’s night walk into the National Park, had mysteriously fallen sick. It could be because she did not receive any tip. I was glad, because her knowledge of lemurs and English seemed rudimentary. We had met our new guide, Virginie in the morning. Looking us in the eye, she had flashed her brown teeth. “Manao Hoana”, she had greeted us in Malagasy.
“Indri!”, Virginie exclaimed, pointing towards the canopy of the forest. Some say that early guides had pointed at the lemurs and shouted, “Indry” or “there it is” and French naturalist Pierre Sonnerat mistook Indri to be the name of the largest lemur. That is how Babakoto was re-christened to Indri.
We looked up trying to peer through the dense foliage. These divas live on a specialised diet and cannot survive in captivity. So, we tried our best to capture them in our cameras.
As I watched their graceful movements from tree to tree, I thought of the previous afternoon when we had been to Vakona Lodge, Andasibe.