"Vohimana" Andasibe by quapaw

Andasibe Travel Guide: 21 reviews and 102 photos

Research site

The research village in Vohimana, where I am staying when conducting the Lemur research, is about a one and a half hour walk from Ambavaniasy. There are no roads in the area and everything is done on foot. Ambavaniasy is a very small town on the Route National 2 (The main road from Tana to Toamasina), about 30 minutes east of Moroamonga. Although it has only 200 or so inhabitants it has 5 churches! Ambavaniasy is reached by taxi-brousse from Tana but you have to change vehicles in Moroamonga. Always fun to sit cramped for hours with an iron bar jammed into your knees… Taxi drivers will not slow down and will just overtake in the corners while you wind your way through the forested hills.
Vohimana lies just in between Andasibe-Mantadia National Park to the North and another large forest to the South. They are working on a project for a forest corridor at the moment to connect these forests again. At this moment there are about 12 students working for MATE (Man And The Environment). MATE is the Non-Governmental Organisation that has got management over the area. I am working on Lemur research together with two other French students. According to MATE there are 11 different species of Lemur present in the rain forests, and we are trying to figure out if this is really the fact. So far we have seen :
Indri indri indri, Indri or Babakoto
Propithecus diadema diadema, Diademed Sifaka
Eulemur fulfus fulfus, Common Brown Lemur
Eulemur rubriventer, Red-bellied Lemur
Hapalemur griseus griseus, Eastern Lesser Bamboo Lemur
Avahi laniger, Woolly Lemur
Microcebus rufus, Brown Mouse Lemur

Indri is the least shy in Vohimana and can be observed from only a few metres away. It is also seems to be the most abundant here. This might has something to do that it is local fady (Taboo) to hunt the Indri.
Sifaka’s and Brown Lemurs are also seen regularly but not as close as the Indri.
The Woolly Lemur and the Mouse Lemur are nocturnal and can be fairly easy found at night. We go out to the forest with a good torch and look for their eye shine. Mouse Lemurs are the smallest primates in the world. There have a body length of only about 20 cm.

For the Vahaza ghosts

Last Saturday 9th of April 2005 a Zebu was sacrificed in Vohimana. Local people saw Vahaza (foreigner or white man) ghosts at the site where an old French colonial logging settlement had been in the 1800’s. To please the ghosts the Zebu was sacrificed. This was something really special for me as I have never witnessed anything like it. The NGO paid for the Zebu and the meat would be divided among the locals, so everyone from the region came to the sacrifice. They gathered at the square near the tourist village, men and women standing separately in groups and the children running from one side to another. In the morning the Tangalamany (local chiefs of the different villages) had a discussion of about 3 hours to determine if the Zebu was good enough to be sacrificed. Apparently the Zebu was blind in one eye. Eventually they decided that the sacrifice would continue.
The Zebu was brought in to the square where it would be sacrificed and spontaneously young men started jumping on the Zebu. All of a sudden a sort of rodeo occurred. The Zebu went mad throwing the young men about while all the women stood around it in a big circle cheering and clapping. They would occasionally run away screaming and laughing when the Zebu would turn their way.
The Zebu was now pushed to the ground and its legs were tied. While all the people were standing around it a few important men did some speeches tapping the Zebu with a stick. A bucket of water was thrown over the Zebu and then his throat was slit using a local machete or coupe coupe. The blood was eagerly collected in buckets and carried away. Now that the Zebu was dead it took a while before something happened, and the Zebu just laid there. After a while I figured out that they where arguing just around the corner about how to divide the meat.
Afterwards the Zebu was entirely cut into tiny little pieces, even the head was split with an axe….The pieces were then divided among the people. I felt very guilty because we, all the people from the NGO, were eating huge steaks. The locals got a few pieces of skin and stomach per family. They were very happy though! They almost never eat meat and live primarily on rice with rice served on rice.

Slah and burn agriculture in vohimana.

  • Last visit to Andasibe: Apr 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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