Kirindy (also known as the Swiss Forest) is arguably the best place to see some of Madagascar’s nocturnal inhabitants such as the fosa, Madagascar’s largest carnivore, and the endangered giant jumping rat.
The fosa (pronounced ‘foosh’) is Madagascar’s largest carnivore; it is a viverrid, which grows up to two metres long, can weigh 14 kilogrammes and is a vicious predator of lemurs. The endangered giant jumping rat is endemic to the Kirindy area, as is the flat-tailed tortoise and breeding efforts are helping to sustain the current populations. The endemic Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, the world’s smallest primate, can also be found in the forest.
With luck, night strollers can see: rork-marked lemur, Coquerel’s dwarf lemur, fat-tailed dwarf lemur, Milne Edward’s sportive lemur and grey mouse lemur. In terms of reptile fauna, Kirindy easily matches Ampijoroa, with highlights including the gorgeous Labord’s chameleon and Oustalet’s chameleon. Birding is good too, with specials commonly seen including: Coquerel’s and crested couas; sicklebill and white-headed vangas, lesser and greater vasa parrots, a variety of raptors and many other species.
Kirindy lies on the west coast of Madgascar, about 60 kilometres north of Morondava, a couple of hours by good road. To get the most from your visit you should consider an overnight stop here, either camping or in a basic lodge, as opposed to a day trip from Morondava. The forest is accessed via the Avenue of Baobabs, a prominent group of baobab trees lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belon'i Tsiribihina.
There is a campsite and research station in the forest, which is helping to promote ecotourism and protect the endemic species. In 1994 the pygmy mouse lemur was rediscovered here, at a mere 35 grams it is the smallest of all primates, and attracts as much attention as the larger lemurs.
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