Madagascar on 12.12.12 part I: the Lemurs

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that I have been pretty excited about 12.12.12.  Why?  Because that’s the day the third “One Day on Earth” film is to be recorded in every country around the world.  The first film, recorded on 10.10.10, was in my Christmas stocking this year (you can order yours at the One Day on Earth Store) and it was pretty awesome.  I contributed to the 11.11.11 film, currently in editing, but I heard about the project so late I wasn’t able to plan anything extraordinary.  Although going to the lake with my dog is always extraordinary.  But this year’s filming date, 12.12.12 happened to coincide with a trip to Madagascar, which is a pretty cool destination.  On December 12, we were headed out to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, where about half a dozen lemurs live natively and can be viewed with a little luck.

[Side note:  Madagascar has about 100 different species of lemurs, a great many of them discovered in the last decade.  Like about 70-80% of all life forms on Madagascar, they exist nowhere else on Earth]

Andasibe-Mantadia is particularly known for a couple of special lemurs, the diademed sifaka, which appears to wear a small diadem, or crown upon its head – and the indri indri.  The indri is special not only because it is the largest variety of lemur, but also because of its territorial call.  While staying at the Vakona Forest Lodge, we had been hearing the shrieking calls of the indris echoing through the forest from kilometers away – and I was excited at the prospect of being able to capture its call up close, and brought a condenser mic in case we couldn’t get as close as I hoped.

As it turns out, our luck played out in spades.  Our guide, Mary, led us into the park and almost immediately cut into the forest, where she pointed excitedly up in the trees, where we could see the gold and white fur of a family of sifakas – including a juvenile.  As the lemurs hopped from tree to tree, seemingly unconcerned by our presence, she led us down a steep incline through the trees and vines, and eventually we were nearly eye level with the furry creatures, as they were up in trees that were rooted about 10-12 feet lower than us on the slope.  After we got our fill of pictures and videos, we continued through the park.

A bit later we came upon a group of about 3 indris, but they were way up in the trees.  Still, I got excited when I heard the (roughly hourly) territorial calls begin somewhere distant, and hooked up the microphone just in time to hear our little group get started.  I thought this would be the highlight of our day, but after she showed us a few smaller animals as well as a nocturnal brown lemur (we’re not sure HOW she managed to spot these things) we came upon another group of indris and were told, “Wait, they will come down.”  Sure enough, after about 20 minutes, they ventured within about 10 feet of the ground, when once again the calls began.  It was loud enough to raise goosebumps, which I’ve hopefully captured in the video below.

[Another side note:  immediately preceding this second set of calls there was a bit of excitement as we realized a nearby boa had caught a tree frog several times larger than its head, and was eating it.  But that will come in a separate post!]

This video is the short version.  I’ll post the longer version and explain the difference below.

So for the 12.12.12 project, the idea is to post as much of your best video footage as possible, while at the same time answering (if possible) the suggested theme of this year’s film, “what do you have / what do you need.” So the trick was to try and tell some kind of story, while at the same time not cutting too much of the footage. So it’s a little longer, but if you’re interested you can watch it to see how I tried to answer the project’s question.

One Day on Earth 12.12.12 – Habitat (Madagascar) from Tom – TAZM Pictures on Vimeo.

This entry was posted in Cool Stuff on Vimeo, Madagascar, One Day on Earth, Wildlife and Nature and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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