On arrival to Moroansetra, I enquired if there were any captured Aye Aye in town or a zoo aka private reserve had any lemurs, a name, Julien popped up with much disgust within the Angap (national park registered) guides I met. The answer I got was, “you can find him, Julien might know where to find Aye Ayes but I don’t recommend it”
Julien Rabsoa former Angap guide, now he calls himself an extra guide was rumored to have a few kept Aye Aye which he shows to paying tourists, documentary and nature television crews. He proudly shows off his nature books, most it seems were given by the authors of the books.
Even Gerald Durrell the famous naturalist and author had his name on the acknowledgment as Julien proudly pointed out tapping at his name on the page. “A few weeks ago, your country television people, Japan Nippon (he thinks I am Japanese) came to film the Aye Aye.”
Being an Angap guide (registered National parks guide) is a poorly paid job, Julien said he makes better money as an ‘extra guide’, of course he does, by charging me 40,000 aviary (16 euros) for 15minutes of personal Aye Aye time.
The nature trip will take 1 hour he said, 10 mins to the forest and another 30mins of showing me all his nature books, and a short 10-15minutes looking at the Aye Aye. I asked if he was keeping the Aye Aye and he denied by replying “there were 6 Aye Ayes in the forest, all wild and free roaming, you don’t need to pay tons of money to Nosy Mangabe and Masaola National park to look at nothing.”
The long walk pass the hotel Relais du Masoala and into an dark empty field with the only remaining tree, the Aye Aye was there waiting. I had only carried LED head lamp and Julien had a torch which had low batteries, it makes bad photographing without a bright lamp in complete darkness. He pointed out the active Aye Aye jumping around the tree with my dim LED head lamp, injected with brief shouts of “Good show, Good show” when the Aye Aye decides to come a little lower and look at us. Indeed the whole 15minutes of Aye Aye viewing seem like a circus show with the Aye Aye performing for me. It was further marred by bouts of heavy rain as I tried to with much difficulty to photograph the animal in complete darkness. In one quick final act of the circus performance, the Aye Aye descended to the lower
branch and looked briefly at me before running up into the foliage, Julien ended the whole show abruptly by saying it was over, it is time to go, the Aye Aye now needs its rest and too much light would affect its eyes.
“Remember to tell everyone in Japan that I am the Aye Aye specialist, I promise guranteed Aye Aye sighting, I will give you my mobile number”, which he did.
The next morning I met him again while heading off to find where he brought me to. He invited me again to join him and a bunch of Americans to look for the Aye Aye and other nocturnal animals for a discounted 40,000 aviary per hour in the night. (I didn’t join in).
He went into his hut and gathered up more nature books to show me his and his siblings names in the acknowledge pages. Seems his whole family were all nature guides and all those published nature authors were using his family
for spotting wild animals. Makes me wonder if these authors and television crews even mention if the animals they recorded in their documentaries and books were wild or captured. I doubt these published authors were dare to mention it so, allowing their viewers to assume they found the lemur in the wild.
In the day, I revisited the area and found it to be a large cleared field surrounded by sparse forest. Right in the empty field was a lone solo tree in the middle, now without any Aye Aye. I surmised that the poor Aye Aye was placed there for ignorant tourists like me, it had no other trees to jump to and definately won’t be able to move across the empty fields in search for other trees to feed on.
More photos to show once I get a chance to upload them.
Location : Finding the tame Aye Aye
Julien Rabasoa’s house can be found just before Masaola Resort
The Aye Aye was located in the forested area is opposite Hotel Relais Du Masaola, you can visit the forest by your own in daytime to see the locals logging for rose wood and other timbers.
Cost of the brief 15mins viewing : 40,000 aviary per person