The Berenty Welcoming Committee: A couple of ring-tails ready to use their charms on fruit bearing visitors.
The Berenty Reserve was created half a century ago by the d'Heaulme family as a private park. Over the last 20 years it has been turned into a natural reserve and wildlife sanctuary. Bordering the Mandrare river it is a small patch (100 hectares) of gallery and riverine forest in the middle of what used to be spiny forest and is now mostly sisal fields.
The Lemurs of Berenty
There are six species of lemur in Berenty of which three are diurnal and practically unavoidable, and three are common and nocturnal. The three diurnal species are Lemur catta, , the brown lemur and Verreaux's sifaka. Berenty is actually the best place to see the Verreaux Sifaka, often called ring-tail, in the wild. The common nocturnal lemurs are Lepilemur mustelinus, Microcebus murinus and M. griseorufus (or the white-footed sportive lemur and the grey mouse lemur). Some research studies have reported that Cheirogaleus medius can also be found in the reserve, but none of the local guides have seen one.
The Berenty Welcoming Committee
Upon arrival at the reserve, you will probably be greeted by a troop of ring-tailed lemurs (called maki by the Malgache) in search of generous visitors bearing gifts of bananas. Should you be one of these visitors and choose to give treats to the lemurs, please do so at the gate. Do not take bananas into the forest. You should also know that bananas are not particularly good for lemurs, but the mischievous primates do greatly enjoy them. If you wander down the main trail in the morning or afternoon (the lemurs tend to sleep in the heat of the day) you will probably find other ringtails–often walking down the trail, quite unconcerned about your presence. Up in the trees you may hear a grunting, and if you pay attention you will find the brown lemurs foraging higher in the canopy. If you turn left when you reach the river and proceed a little way upstream you will come to a meadow with a large (Pithosolubium) tree in the center of it–this is probably the best place to find sifaka.