The lemur, a primate with an intense gaze clinging to its branch, devours them with its eyes: these tourists from Antananarivo, four hours away, are the first humans seen for a long time, the COVID crisis requires.
In Madagascar, in this forest near the Andasibe National Park, nature is intact and noisy only with the cries of animals. After five months of confinement, the Malagasy were able to resume the road on September 5 as well as flights within the island of the Indian Ocean.
But tourist operators, such as around this reserve which has many lemurs, emblematic animals of the country, are suffering, pending the resumption of international flights.
Like some Parisians, who took advantage of the absence of foreigners to (finally) visit the Eiffel Tower, this Malagasy family left “Tana” as soon as they could to get some fresh air and come and admire these primates. singulars that intrigue the whole world.
Especially the indri indri, the largest of the lemurs, with a black and white coat and a very recognizable shrill cry, which is in critical danger of extinction.
“During the confinement, I really wanted to leave the capital and I thought I should take the opportunity to visit new places,” explains Linda Maminiaina, 22 years old.
“These are not lemurs in cages, but in their natural habitat. We see them live, eat! », Marvels his younger sister Prisca, 20, accompanied by her parents and her two little brothers.
But the French hotelier Anouk Izouard, who also manages a restaurant and a private piece of forest, still sees far too few people for her liking. “We should be in the middle of the season, with an occupancy rate of 90%,” she told AFP. With local travelers, it can only hope to reach 5-10%.
The majority of its employees, usually around 100, have been on technical unemployment for more than three months.
Besides tourism, the pandemic also directly affects the forest. In thirty years, Pascal Pierre, president of the association of forest guides of Andasibe, has never seen this: “The villagers have cut down trees to make firewood, because that is what is sold on the market. more, ”he told AFP.
“Some also take wood for construction, they illegally exploit the forest to earn money,” he adds annoyed.
Along with the forest, it is the habitat of lemurs and all the unique fauna of Madagascar, famous for its incredible biodiversity, which goes up in smoke. A fragile ecosystem on which tourism also depends, which represents 7% of the Malagasy economy.
According to the latest red list published in July by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 103 of 107 lemur species are threatened, mainly due to deforestation and hunting, of which 33 are endangered critical, last category before extinction.