Here are a couple of my selected extracts from “Journeys to the
past” by David Attenbrough. (1983)
(David and his cameraman are in the dense forest of Eastern
Madagascar seeking the elusive Indress Lemur. This is the only
Lemur which has hardly any tail at all. With their equipment
situated across from a small stream, looking down into a clearing
of small trees, and after days of no luck, they finally decide to
play back some of its previously recorded calls…)
“Then the voice of the recorder was completely drowned by
stentorian trumpeting hoots. Then I saw one of the singers in a
tree in the middle of the dell. A big furry Lemure. Partly
coloured black and white, sitting on a branch some 30 feet from the
(Davids earlier research seemed to indicate the colouring was wrong
and this couldn’t be an Indress.)
“Another trumpet came from a tree on the left. I turned and saw
two more of the animals sitting with their necks craned forward,
staring at us in puzzlement.
Then as the animal seated himself once more, I blinked in surprise.
‘Where has he put his tail?’ I muttered to Geoff. ‘He should have
a very long black one.’ Then he raised all of his long hind legs
and grasped the tree trunck in front of him, almost on a level with
his chest. He did not have a tail! ‘Geoff,’ I said quietly, ‘that
is an Indress!’ There could be no doubt. There is only one
tailless Lemur. )The Lemurs then got a fright and bounded from
tree to tree and disappeared. Knowing these Lemurs follow certain
daily routes, David and Geoff watched the same spot the next
“We were up before dawn to see. They were there and as we had not
needed to play the recording to find them, they were undisturbed
and oblivious of our presence.
The big maile, the first we had seen, was feeding, sitting astride
a branch, like a child on a seesaw, with his enormous black socked
legs dangling. With his hands, he was reaching above his head,
plucking selected young leaves and stuffing them nonchalantly
in his mouth. The other two sat close by. They proved to be a
pair. As they were a little smaller, I assumed they must be a
young couple. If they were, where was the old males mate?
Quietly we investigated and at last I detected her. hidden in a
tree some distance away.
We watched this family day after day for over a week and slowly we
came to know their daily routine. They were indeed creatures of
“The male reached up to a branch by his head and neatly swung
himself around so that he sat behind his mate. He placed one of
his long legs on either side of her as though to reassure her. She
bent back her long neck and rewarded him with a lick on the chin.
The fourth member of the family group, the old female, we seldom
saw. She seemed to settle only in the thickest foliage. Perhaps
she had good cause for her reticence.
It was only after several days of concentrating our attention on
her that we discovered the reason. Clinging to her back, she had
a small black faced baby. With hairy puckish ears and bright eyes.
He was barely a foot long.”
Filming the Indress Leaping.
“Prompt at half past three, the old male appeared in the take off
tree. The young couple joined him a few minutes later and finally
the mother and her baby emerged from the forest behind to sit on
one of the branches over hanging the road. As soon as they were
all assembled, the old male clambered leisurely to the most
outstretched branch. Geoff began filming. The mail poised himself
then leaped. A single soaring jump right across the road to the
tree on the other side. One by one the rest of his family followed
him and disappeared. GEoff switched off his cameras and beamed.”
“Were the creatures we had filmed and watched with such pleasure
for so many days really the origin of the legend of the dog headed
man? They were undeniably dog headed, particularly when they
clambered through the branches. They seemed very human like.The
length of their legs in proportion to their torsos being very close
to that of a mans. Further, the legends seemed to stem from the
Arabs. Their Dhows have been trading for centuries between the
North East coast of Africa, and across the Mozambique Channel.”
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Barry Blomkamp Nd. Bsc (UL)
Professional Public Speaker, Trainer and Corporate Entertainer,
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Conference speaker, Team Builder, Comedian, Master of Ceremonies,
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