Friday, 28 March 2008

Dark I am but lovely

Daubentonia madagascariensis

Native only to the rain forests of Madagascar the Aye-aye is a ‘cousin’ of the Lemur and the largest nocturnal primate weighing in at around 2.5 kilos. He forages by night and sleeps by day in nests built high in forks of trees. They are highly athletic and prefer to swing around high in the forest canopy, while they are supreme trapeze artists they less graceful when walking and standing on the ground. Aye-ayes have an extra long middle finger used in a process called echolocation – tap taping on trees to locate wood boring insect bugs which they then hook out using the same digit. The super long finger is also useful for scooping out flesh of coconuts and other fruits that supplement its insect diet. Sadly, some superstitious natives of Madagascar consider the Aye-aye an omen of ill fortune – a harbinger of evil no less! Some believed that should you happen across one and he pointed his long finger at you – your number was up - Finito. Others believed that if an Aye-aye came into a village, which increasingly due to the destruction of the rain forest it was forced to do in search of food, then its presence meant a villager would die unless the Aye-aye was murdered first. This ‘kill on sight’ practice along with the destruction of it natural habitat has, unsurprisingly left the Aye-aye an endangered species. These guys are natural born libertines they are not monogamous. Thankfully they are now protected by law.

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