Day 296, Year 5 Babies and Baobabs
Date: Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Weather: Another Beautiful Day; Wind SE 15+
Location: Moramba Bay, NW Madagascar

Baby lemurs are just too cute, so the hope today was to get to watch the mother and baby that we photographed yesterday, not even knowing at the time that we were seeing a baby. This morning the wind was blowing like crazy again, so we took the dinghy to the closest shore hoping to not get soaked again. The closest beach happens to be the one with the homestay and a path over the hill to the lemur beach. Just like yesterday morning and unlike yesterday afternoon, the lemurs were in the trees waiting for us. Unfortunately, they were higher in the trees and there were all sorts of vines hanging in the line of sight. So we climbed through brush and vines and every manner of prickly forest vegetation to get a better look. Finally we spotted the mother and baby. The baby was riding on mama’s back as she made her leap from one tree to another, so we tromped further into the dense vegetation. We managed to get a couple of photos of mother and baby and one short video. This baby lemur already has a fluffy white coat and was quite curious. She or he would look down to where we were and then look back at mamma. Then the baby decided it was time for a mid-morning snack and crawled around to the mother’s front and tucked in to nurse. We could still see one little leg and the scrawny little tail sticking out. Lynne and Ed had gone back to the beach by this time, but Mark and I persisted and found another mother and baby. This baby was obviously younger and we think it is the one we saw yesterday. We feel so fortunate that these Coquerel’s Safika lemurs allow us to hang around with them and just watch. Today we stood under the trees watching them for at least half an hour. They did move from tree to tree when we moved in closer, but they didn’t try to get completely away from us.

Ed had gone for a walk while we were lemur watching and found a bamboo forest. All of the garden fencing we have seen is made of bamboo poles and we had been wondering where it came from. Now we know. We walked back to the homestay and found that they wind had calmed a bit, so we got in the dinghy and headed to the beach where we spotted our first lemurs upon arrival here. We didn’t see any lemurs hanging out near the huge baobab where we have seen them before, so we took off on a path into the woods just to explore. We came out in a flat field of dried grass and beautiful baobabs all around. I call it the Valley of the Baobabs. These giants really dolook like someone pulled them out of the ground and stuck them back in with their roots in the air. I read one description that said it has been described as ‘A Caliban of a tree, a grizzled distorted old goblin with a girth of a giant, the hide of a rhinoceros, twiggy fingers clutching at empty air.’ Walking among them is a definite Tolkien-esque experience. Mark and I got back to the beach before Ed and Lynne and I saw some huge birds flying through the trees over by the big baobab. On second look, I realized I was not seeing giant birds, but I was watching lemurs leaping from tree to tree. Then one of them bounded down on the beach right in front of the giant baobab, made another leap, and then went into the trees. They are not as graceful on the ground as they are in the trees, but it was exciting to see this one bound across the sand. We found him in a tamarind tree, but we never did find the other two who flew through the trees with him. We measured the girth of the giant baobab and found that is about twenty-five feet around. The first baobab we saw on Nosy Ankarea up north was over thirty feet around, but both are big. I then wanted to walk into the woods behind this giant to see two other monsters that we had seen from the dinghy yesterday. Mark came with me reluctantly as it was once again a prickly experience. When we got to the trees, I was very surprised to find that they were not as tall as I had thought. They were definitely bottle-shaped and a little less than twenty feet around. Because of all the vines and brush I couldn’t get far enough away to get a photo, but I do have one taken from the dinghy. The bottle-shaped tree has my vote as prettiest baobab and the giant where the lemurs hang out is the most majestic.

100818 Day 296 Moramba Bay, Madagascar–Explore #4