What is the first thing you see when you think of Madagascar? I won’t be surprised if your first thought is Lemur! Partly because of the cult animated movie “Madagascar”, but also since it’s the only place in the world where you can see them in the wild. Today, I am going to tell you a little bit about Madagascar lemurs and also what everyday life here is like.
My journey today begins in Ranomafana. Heading south-west, it’s around 217 miles to Ranohira. Ranohira, a town on the edge of the Isalo National Park. Let me focus on lemurs though.
On the way to Ranohira, I plan to visit Anja Community Reserve,the only place in the world, where you can see lemurs in the wild. Anja is located among the Ambalavao hills and is the natural habitat of the Katta lemurs.
Anja Park is a nature reserve that is located hereabouts of characteristic granite mountains, named by the locals as the Three Sisters, as they stay proudly next to each other. This is very dry territory, inhabited by Katta lemurs. I call this place – the King Julian Realm, because Katta lemurs are a well-known character from the animated film “Madagascar”. Although, there is no single king in King Julian’s realm. Katta lemurs live in herds of 40 to 80 individuals. They are led by a female, while the male is responsible for the territory.
Lemurs are curious and sometimes come very close, but it is worth remembering to resist from feeding them or touching their fluffy tails, after all, they are wild animals. I do not touch, but I sure take a selfie with King Julian! While doing that, I can’t help but hum a well-known melody “I like to move it, move it.” (Click here to play video) Did you just sing it yourself?
Buildings on the island of Madagascar are, mainly build of mud huts, mixed with cane and Zebu cattle droppings (so-called Tang). Buildings of slightly better quality are made of sand (extracted from the river), mixed with stones. You can often see young guys on the road, breaking larger pieces of rock into smaller ones, which are to be used for construction. Very few houses are built using brick. Brick houses are usually two-story buildings and are a sign of a real luxury.
Life in villages looks very primitive. Local markets are simply wobbly roadside wooden tables, and sometimes clay sheds. Raw meat and fish for sale are hung on hooks. Children run between the stands, every so often, they sit under the tables, playing with pebbles. Nobody is in a rush. Life flows from sunrise to sunset.
The best way for transporting all kinds of goods is own head. Fruit baskets, rice bags, boards, meat, fish, all these are carried in baskets on the head. Agricultural work is done by hand, without the use of machines. The wealthier Malagasy use the help of Zebu cattle, but they do most of the work themselves. Something unimaginable these days, yet true.
Along the road, I pass local people, who carry crayfish from a nearby river, for sale. Crayfish is wrapped in banana leaves which is a very ecological way to pack your things! After all, in Madagascar, even unconsciously, one lives very ecologically, simply because of a lack of resources.
I am in an area that is famous for the Zebu cattle trade. Why am I mentioning this? Because Zebu is treated as the highest currency in Madagascar. If you have a lot of cattle, you are wealthy. These cattle are much wilder than those you know, incomparably stronger and more agile. They are commonly used for transportation. No wonder that the price of one bull is around 1 million AR = 306 GBP.
We are already halfway to Ranohira and it’s about time to stop for lunch. We choose to break off at the town of Ihosy and the picturesque Tiana hotel. I decide to try local speciality and rarity of the region, the zebu tongue. Perhaps it does not sound appetizing, but it turned out to be very tasty and extremely delicate! I definitely recommend to try it! To complete the meal, coffee in the rays of the setting sun, something wonderful!
Lemurs are known as the symbol of the island and inseparable element of the island. You will probably see more pictures of them in the future post. However, in the next one, I will take you to a desert oasis in the canyons of Isalo Park. Get ready because this is a story straight from the Wild West!