Taking Photos in Berenty Reserve
Taking Photos in Berenty Reserve. Owned by the Heaulme family, Berenty has been a reserve since 1936 and is surrounded by vast sisal plantations about 80km west of Fort Dauphin in southwestern Madagascar.
In case you were wondering sisal looks a bit like a pineapple plant reaching only a few feet off the ground with long spiky green leaves. Native to Mexico it is now produced commercially in Brazil, Tanzania and Madagascar among other countries. It is used in production of rope and tough wearing clothes among other things and can withstand the tough dry conditions in this part of the world. The organised straight lines of the plantations surround the reserve and provide a somewhat unusual backdrop to this unique reserve.
One of the reasons I have come this far south again is to get photos of the ‘dancing lemur’ or Verreaux’s Sifaka to sell the prints of this charismatic animal as part of my craft shop.
Armed with a much better camera than last time I can zoom in and get up close pictures of their lovely faces which frame big yellow eyes, often giving them a surprised look. They spend a lot of time lounging around, mostly in the trees but sometimes on the ground, but even these shots are very animated.
While I get some great action videos of them ‘dancing’ as they move on the ground my favourite shots are the ones when they are relaxing and I catch them with expressions ranging from in a sleep like state to wide awake and alert giving the camera an inquisitive glance.
Of course it is not only the Verreaux’s Sifaka which lives in the reserve but families of Ring-tailed, Brown, Sportive and Mouse lemurs also. Which makes taking photos in Berenty Reserve so rewarding. As well as that there are numerous species of birds such as kites which can be seen circling overhead in search for a meal, bats hanging from trees, spider tortoise and many types of chameleon.
For this reason I have a busy few days up at 5am every morning to see the Ring-tailed lemurs take the early morning heat in a lotus position facing the sun before going off to feed. Morning is also a good time to see the Verreaux’s Sifaka moving form where they sleep into the another part of the forest to eat and at times they seemed to pose for the camera giving me almost postcard perfect snaps.
The roads and trails also have an atmospheric feel about them especially at sunrise and sunset with the long shadows giving lovely photos of the red ground and surrounding trees.
I managed to take few hundred photos in Berenty and am delighted that a fair proportion of them are good quality making this out of the way reserve more than worthwhile.