Sunday, 23 September 2012

Baby Lemur, Baby Lemur!

We would like to congratulate PBC, a Greater Bamboo Lemur, on the birth of her new baby! We do not know yet if it is a boy or a girl. The baby is about the size of a chipmunk, with fur a bit darker than the adult animals. It has a tiny tail hardly bigger than a pencil but it already seems to be using the tail to help it maintain its balance as it clings to the mother's abdomen. It is hard to believe this tiny helpless thing will be leaping through the forest and playing with its friends in just a few months! The baby's older brother, born last September, seems indifferent to his new sibling. He still follows his mother around sometimes but he is more often foraging by himself or playing with the other juveniles.

 There are no baby pictures yet, but here is an unrelated shot of Hercules, one of our dominant males, scent marking. Male simus have large scent glands under their armpits that they like to rub on branches to mark their territory. Sometimes they mark their own tails too and you can really smell the musky scent wafting behind them as they move.

Here is Hercules (left) back in July when we put a new radio collar on him. The eyes are open because of the drug but the animal is still unconscious. He is recovering at this point and is starting to move and hold his head up. He was starting to hold on with the front legs (they have a really strong grip, even asleep) but the rear half of the body was still dead weight at this point.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Another shitty day with the lemurs...

"What is excrement?" Theoluc asks me one day while our lemur is sleeping. My old partner left him a Malagasy-English dictionary and Theoluc is reading it to improve his English, but some of the translations are not clear. Apparently he is up to the letter E.

"Just a sec, I'm upside down." The ground under the sleeping animal's tree is too steep to sit on. I tried to sit, then lie down, then I squirmed around until my head ended up below my feet, a tree root digging into my shoulder and ants crawling on me from somewhere. Theoluc has found a perch that looks much better, and politely says nothing while I struggle upright.

"It means shit."

"As in "The animal is excrementing?""

"No, it's only the noun "shit", not the verb. Like "This is a piece of lemur excrement."" I pick up a bit of old dried lemur poo. Their poo is innocuous: the fresh stuff is like pellets of wet green plant matter and the old stuff looks like hay. It doesn't smell. Theoluc nods understanding and goes back to his dictionary.

I go back to staring lazily into the distance. It is hot, but very pleasant in the shade of the forest and when you are not moving. Insects make a loud background hum, the sort of noise you hardly notice. We are near the edge of the forest so I can look out across a field of tiny knobby trees. They are grown for biodiesel and nobody knows the English name.