Aye-aye, Devil of Madagascar

This is one of the Aye-ayes (Daubentonia madagascariensis) I found in Madagascar. They are lemurs but quite a different one. Despite their large body size, the Aye-ayes took me a lot longer to find than other lemurs.

It means death when its elongated middle finger points at someone, locals believe. The Aye-aye would scare the poop out of most (even local) people if they encounter one at night in the woods. But for me, I was feeling soooo lucky and blessing that I got a chance to encounter with the most bizarre-looking animal on the island.


I can’t think of any other creatures that would be a better fit for me to share on Halloween. The title of “Devil of Madagascar” is the reason why most of the Aye-ayes got killed by local people. Comparing to poaching or game hunting, this kind of killing is even more ridiculous. I’ve told every Malagasy people I met about this wrong belief and most of them understood and agreed not to kill them anymore.

Radiated Tortoise and Baobab Symbiosis

So old, so slow, yet (probably) not too wise.

The other night with the full moon, I was there in the extreme south of Madagascar watching these 2 symbolic Malagasy creatures living in harmonic symbiosis. I was sitting next to both of them all night and loving them both, like a triangle.

Both the Radiated tortoise and Baobabs have been living a slow-paced life for 88 million years, which city people are recently getting to understand.

Not only are these creatures slow, they are stubborn as w(h)ell. They’d stick with their lifestyle despite the fact that the force of uptempo pace from outside world had arrived in such remote “natural” habitats. The title of critically endangered species ain’t no scare any feces outta’em. They’d rather not to change to fit in.

Extinction of a species is normal. However, it seems it’s happening over 1,000 times faster than it’s supposed to.

I Climbed up a Big Fat Baobab

To celebrate my encounter with the super rare Ploughshare tortoises in Madagascar, I decided to free climb the biggest baobab in the area barefoot.

These chubby beauties are straight and surprisingly smooth. Baobabs are so much harder to climb than most trees. I still ain’t sure how I managed to climb up so high. I was feeling like a lizard.

Not only are the fruits superfood, but the baobabs are also beneficial to humans in hundreds of ways. But like most of the creatures in Madagascar, these trees are facing extinction, too. Mighty, yet fragile.

Meet My Oldest New Friend the Giant Tortoise

200+ years old! Possibly the oldest animal I’ve ever met. (no idea/proof about the sea turtles I met) Had to check history books to imagine how the world was like when this old folk was a 3-inch small hatchling.

This Aldabra giant tortoise is the most baby-faced old folk I’ve ever encountered. My fisheye lens even helped me to magnify the cuteness which seems like a good way to let more people appreciate these long-lived, peaceful animals. Despite the very long, tough journey before reaching their natural habitat, they’re among the easiest animal for me to photograph.

We indeed ought to keep them away from unnatural harm because our ancestors massacred and eliminated at least 35 species and subspecies of their ancestors (giant tortoises) within a very short period of only 250 years. Now, this is the only one species left in islands of the Indian Ocean.

World’s Last Male of This Rhino Dies

Kenya

So long, Sudan!

As a dinosaur fan when I was a kid, co-existing with some still living triceratops on earth inside the timeline of my life was hope, heuristic and what made me go on. But now I’m grown and I’ve learned more. It just leaves tears.

After Suni died 4 years ago, Sudan became the last surviving male Northern white rhinoceros in the world. And he died yesterday in Kenya at the age of 45.

The remaining of the subspecies are 2 females, daughter and granddaughter of Sudan. Although Sudan had his sperm frozen and stored and cloning may sound like an option, the subspecies will still probably have to be declared extinct following the West African black rhino and Vietnamese Javan rhino which were both declared extinct 7 years ago.

All of the rhinos gone extinct human witnessed were subspecies. The African rhino that is closer to a full species extinction is the Black rhino.

Just in case if you didn’t know, as the media coverage is mainly on the African species, the rhinos which are facing much more critical situations are the Asian species. There are around 25,000 African rhinos left. Less than 4,000 Asian rhinos are left where the Javan rhino (full species) being one of the most endangered mammals on earth. 2 out of 3 subspecies of the Javan rhino have gone extinct. The last subspecies (Indonesian Javan rhino) population is estimated at around 63 left. The most endangered subspecies of rhino is the Bornean rhino which only around 15 individuals left in total.

Rhinoceros have lived on earth for over 25 million years. Having experienced them gone extinct one by one during merely 7 years within our human lives is just plain devastating, irrecoverably.

Face to Face with the Biggest Shoebill

No, it’s not the bill you pay for your Air Jordan.

The shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) or whalehead, is a very large stork-like bird. This is one I’ve come across in Uganda. In front of such a prehistoric looking creature with a wingspan of over 8 feet, you better stay low like what I did in the photo. It’s not that we should be scared of them. That’s respect.

Typical Safari Is Not Typical of Me

I just went on a decent, British colonial style safari watching the big five in Maasai Mara, Kenya.

Such a typical safari for some who’s been working with wild animals for decades. Why did I feel brand new? It’s because it’s not hands-on. My eyes had plenty to see but my hands had nothing to grab. Oh right, cameras.

Trying new things feels good. Not of my major interest but I did know how to enjoy the journey and got inspired.

I did tons of photos, though. Here’s one. More to add later.