David Attenborough is well known as a leading naturalist and explorer, travelling in little-known countries in search of the rare and exotic, and writing his extrememly popular books about strange encounters and unforgettable scenes. This is the full account of four months he spent travelling several thousand miles throughout the island of Madagascar to meet the varied peoples whose origin stems from the Far East rather than from nearby Africa, study their local customs, and film some of the remarkable animals which occur nowhere else in the world. Spectacular chamaeleons, nearly three feet in length and gaudily coloured, geckos so well camouflaged they are almost impossible to find, millipedes the size of golf-balls, the ceremonies of turning of the dead and sacrificing to crocodiles-these are some of the things described in this fascinating book. But the principal objective of the expedition was to film and observe the unique, and uniquely charming, lemurs. He saw brown lemurs, gentle lemurs, ruffed lemurs, ringed lemurs and mouse lemurs.
He spent days tracking the snow-white sifakas which few naturalists have observed in the wild, witnessed their prodigious leap, watched them play and writes about their affectionate family life. Finally, he heard the "weird, deafening wail" of the legendary indris and day after day returned to the same place in the dense rain forest in the hope of seeing this magnificent lemur. At last he was rewarded with the sight of a big male "sitting astride a branch like a child on a see-saw", two youngsters and an old female carrying a baby on her back. For a week he watched this family, entranced by the indris which "of all the creatures we filmed in Madagascar was the rarest, the least known scientifically, and the most enduring". David Attenborough is a lively writer with an incredible understanding of nature and acute powers of observation.
Whether he is describeding the emergence from its large cocoon of the spectacular Malagasy comet moth, or telling the amusing story of how a tenrec was lost in and recovered from the coachwork of a car, or writing about his painstaking search for the egg fragments of an extinct bird, he brings to bear his vivid descriptive talents which makes this a most rewarding and entertaining book to read.
Map Acknowledgments 1 Arrival 2 Sifaka 3 The Giant Birds 4 Flamingoes, Tenrecs and Mouse Lemurs 5 The Spirits of the Dead 6 Walking Fish 7 Moths, Wasps and Ant-lions 8 Chamaeleons, Herons and Lemurs 9 Flamingo Chase 10 The Dog-headed Man 11 The Creatures of the Forest 12 Babakoto 13 Zoo Appendix- The Classification of Lemurs