High up in the mountains of north-eastern Madagascar lives one of the world’s most critically endangered primates. There are less than a thousand Silky Sifakas alive today and this area of remote rainforest, known as Marojejy-Anjanaharibe-Sud, is their only home.
In the past, the rugged terrain here kept the Silkies relatively safe but things are now changing at an alarming pace. This magical place is under serious threat from illegal logging operations as international demand for highly sought-after rosewood and ebony increases. These unscrupulous gangs are encroaching on the Silkies’ last remaining habitat.
‘Trouble in lemur-Land’ follows two men, an American primatologist and a Malagasy conservationist, on their quest to protect this rare species, at the same time providing a rare glimpse into the life of this extraordinarily beautiful and graceful animal. The ﬁlm centres around the arrival of two babies in the group — a glimmer of hope in an otherwise desperate situation. Lemur reproduction rates are slow and Silkies only mate one day in the year, so it is a very special moment when primatologist Eric Patel sees them for the first time. He has a permanent camp on the outskirts of their last remaining territory and we are given a rare glimpse into this intimate, close-knit group as the babies develop in the sanctuary of the forest canopy.
Meanwhile, taking advantage of long-term political instability, the loggers are steadily extracting Madagascar’s rosewood for export to China.They are well armed and highly motivated but conservationist Desire Rabary is not afraid to confront them, regardless of the risks. He heads up a network of local people who play a vital role in the survival of the forest and its lemurs. Over the past five years he has worked hard to actively expose their illegal trail of destruction but, as this film reveals, the heart of the problem starts on his own doorstep.
This 50-minute HD ﬁlm brings the forest to life, with stunning images of many of its other species, including the striking helmet vanga bird, white fronted brown lemur, red-bellied lemur, green tree frogs, panther chameleons and the elusive fossa. This treasure trove of endemic Madagascan wildlife is a timely reminder of what we stand to lose if the environmental issues so critical to their survival are not urgently addressed.
Will Erik and Desire’s combined passion and dedication be enough to ensure the two Silky babies have a chance to reach maturity, or has their fate already been sealed? Will this rare species survive the destruction of their habitat or will they become the ”phantoms of the forest”?
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