We were deep in the Pangalanes lake region in some thick rainforest and experiencing firsthand why it is named as such. After a short boat ride in the rain from Hotel Bush House, where we were staying, to Hotel Palmarium within eyeshot across the lake, our group, led by Hasina, embarked on what was scheduled to be a forest walk of a couple of hours to view lemurs.
While even many high-end cell phones are fully water resistant these days, my camera equipment was rated as only “weather-sealed”, meaning it could withstand a brief, light drizzle, but not much more. So, having already braved the challenging rainforest conditions a few days earlier Andasibe National Park, and gotten some decent shots of lemurs, I opted to not risk my equipment in the wet conditions any further and to rather stay at the lodge to get some computer work done while the rest of our Wikinger Reisen group followed Hasina through the forest in search of more lemurs.
I wished them a pleasant walk and bid them a temporary farewell, but I had not even fully opened my laptop when a bounding Hasina reappeared with an enormous smile, beckoning me to follow him: “Paul, you must come! We have seen a very rare lemur!”
I quickly stashed my computer, grabbed my cameras and my poncho and followed him to a spot not even beyond the boundary of the lodge.
The Female Red-bellied lemur (Eulemur rubriventer), is pictured here as an extract from page 190 of Portraits of Madagascar in the chapter: Wildlife.
Here, the camera deceives one when conveying the darkness of the overcast rainforest. It was a very tricky affair getting a nicely frozen shot of the little animal as she scanned our party’s hands with feverish curiosity for the possibility of food offerings, and scurried hurriedly from branch to branch. The task was made all the more difficult my fellow tour party members at times stepping into the view of my long lens to get their own shots.
As a professional photographer on these sorts of trips, when embedded on assignments in tour groups of folks who have paid for a superb holiday, I’m always very careful to keep a low profile and to let the travellers have the most pleasant and enjoyable experiences without having my work or my presence interfere in any way. However, on this occasion due to the weather, the difficult lighting, my uncooperative subject, the fact that my long lens meant that I was shooting from the back of the group and therefore had to hunt for gaps in the small crowd to get an unobscured shot, and with my head and my camera completely covered from the rain, I will admit to the possibility of there having been a few mumbled English swear words emanating audibly in the background from beneath a bazaar looking wet green poncho.
The frustration was, however, brief and well worth the exchange for yet another special encounter with one of these friendly and gentle creatures.