Meeting the white ghost of Marojejy, Madagascar
The Silky Sifaka is one of the rarest mammals on earth, with an estimated 200-250 left, and still actively hunted. That in itself makes this a special experience for us, but it became extra special due to the events that led to it...
The odds of seeing the Silky Sifaka are reportedly best in "camp 2" in Marojejy, hence we spend two nights there. Arriving late on the first night, we expected to spend the next day trying to find it. Our guide suggested he would do this instead, together with a group of trackers, leaving us to wait for them in camp 2 with hopefully the happy news.
Camp 2 is beautiful as are the surroundings, so we were OK with this arrangement. Yet as the day progressed, I increasingly got worried with the lack of news. And as we saw the sun set, we knew the window of opportunity was over. The next day we were scheduled to leave the mountain at 6AM already, so this was it. No Silky Sifaka.
Yet that night my girlfriend got ill, having heavy stomach cramps, which was worrying given that were way out of range of any facility. Luckily after some medicinal tea in the morning, she was slowly recovering. We decided to delay our departure from 6AM to 8AM.
And just because of that change, at 6:30AM a local tracker came running at me mentioning "Simpona! Simpona!". I had closed the book on the Silky Sifaka already and could not believe what was happening. I ran after this very fast man up the mountain for about 10 minutes, fighting exhaustion, until I came at this site, where a group was passing.
The light wasn't great and I was still shaking from exhaustion and excitement, but here's a first photo, of a male (black chest). Several more to come throughout the week, all possible only because Henriette got sick, crazy odds.
The silky sifaka , or silky simpona, is a large lemur characterized by long, silky, white fur. It has a very restricted range in northeastern Madagascar, where it is known locally as the simpona. It is one of the rarest mammals on Earth, and is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as one of the world's 25 most critically endangered primates. The silky sifaka is one of nine sifaka species , and one of four former subspecies of diademed sifaka . Studies in 2004 and 2007 compared.. more