Lemur Island: Tuesday April 17

lemur island (7/10)

In a corner of the remote island of Madagascar lives a remarkable and unique prosimian species: the ring-tailed lemur. This ten-part series provides a lemur’s eye view of these fascinating creatures as they go about their daily routine. This week, the Graveyard Gang welcomes two new arrivals while its oldest member decides to pack his bags.

Food and water are at a premium among the members of the Graveyard Gang as the dusty dry season continues. Low-ranking female Liberty is suffering from the lack of food, with patchy fur and tick-ridden eyes. But new trials are just around the corner for her when she goes into labour and sneaks off to give birth.

The young lemur emerges safely into the world, but it must cling tightly to Liberty’s thinning fur for the next six weeks if it is to have any chance of surviving. The next day Liberty unveils her new arrival, before getting down to the crucial job of foraging for food. Liberty must regain her strength so she joins the gang at the cacti to feed. But the weakened baby struggles to grip her fur and hangs perilously low, unable to suckle. The baby is so weak that Liberty gives the afternoon forage a miss, despite her desperate need for nourishment.

The following day reveals that in spite of the odds, Liberty’s baby has survived the night. Further surprises are in store when Liberty’s daughter Emily also gives birth. Healthier and stronger than her mum, Emily is only too pleased to show off her baby, while Liberty is less than thrilled. Her closest ally now has a new priority, and she can’t expect much help from that quarter.

The Graveyard’s Gang’s ongoing search for food now takes them to ‘Dustbin Diner’ in the tourist camp. Here the bins of leftover food are like a Mecca to troops of hungry lemurs and the place is teeming with animals. But it is also a dangerous spot for an infant with a weak grip, and Liberty is uncomfortable with so many rival gangs around.

Once the lemurs are sated, the afternoon siesta draws in. But the peace is shattered by calls of distress from a helpless lemur. In the unfamiliar surroundings a baby has lost its troop. While a healthy baby is rarely deserted, diseases or birth defects sometimes mean that a mother will abandon her offspring. But whose baby is wandering alone, and will anyone bother to respond?

Also this week, the granddad of the Graveyard Gang, 13-year-old Pegleg, decides to look for a new tribe to join. Moth-eaten Pegleg and his dim best mate Derek both have hair loss caused by snacking on a toxic plant. They venture into the jungle in search of a new troop for Pegleg, who has been with the Graveyards long enough for his offspring in the tribe to have reached mating age. To avoid father-daughter matings, it’s common for males to swap troops –hence Pegleg’s decision to move on, with devoted pal Derek tagging along. But spending nights in the jungle away from the tribe is a risky business, and Pegleg’s mission has no guarantee of success…

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