Aye-ayes in Maraontsetra
I’ve just noticed Jason Woolgar’s query regarding Aye-aye, which has prompted me to post (rather belatedly I’m afraid) about the possibility of seeing this species on the mainland.
In November 2013 I visited Madagascar, taking in the northwest, southwest and central forests as many bird/mammal groups do, before heading to the Masoala peninsular in the northeast. This involved an overnight stop in Maraontsetra, where our tour leader was able to organise an impromptu night excursion to a ‘community woodland’ with a local guide based (I think) at Relais du Masoala. This involved a visit to a nearby area of open, degraded forest and overgrown plantations which was crawling with small- and medium-sized lemurs (we were honestly picking up eye-shine every 25m or so at one point). And, incredibly, after a long wander around, we bumped into an Aye-aye! I won’t go into too many gory details as I don’t want everyone to hate me, but suffice to say it was truly mind-blowing and even a tick for the Tropical Birding guide, who lives in northern Madagascar. A photo taken by one of the other trip participants appears in the link below if you can face it:
I’m not sure how reliable this site is – as is often the case with guides, we found it hard to get a straight answer regarding how often Aye-ayes are seen. He gave the impression that we had good chances but couldn’t clarify whether that meant 1 visit out of 50 or 9 visits out of 10, and then was nearly as excited as us when we spotted it! So who knows. Hopefully this will come in useful to future visitors, especially if I can be less vague and find out his contact details (which I will endeavour to do). He certainly knew his stuff, having sites for other critters like Tomato Frog, Panther Chameleon and Red Owl as well as the lemurs – which included the mega Hairy-eared, the local species of Sportive-Lemur, Greater Dwarf, and apparently more than one mouse lemur.
Apologies again if this is too gripping – if anyone wants any other info regarding sites and sightings let me know.