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Why the largest lemur in the world is called Babakoto

Once upon a time in a small village in Madagascar, a Bezanozano man (a tribe living in the east of the country) prepared a small basket. He asked his little son Koto to come with him and together they wandered deep into the jungle to find honey. After a few hours they found a bee hive on a high rosewood tree. Father climbed the tree. When he was on top, he helped his son Koto climb up as well. Together, they excitedly reached the beeds and collected the tasty wild honey.

Suddenly it started to rain. “Let us quickly get down from the tree again and be careful,” his father shouted before he slipped and fell into the depths himself. The father couldn’t survive the fall. Who should now help young Koto to climb down the tree? As if his situation had not been tragic enough, it began to rain more and more. A storm was brewing and thunderstorms were looming. oor Koto still sat on his tree, covered in leaves, trying to seek shelter from the rain. The thunderstorm lasted the whole night, and Koto fell asleep tired and exhausted.

Babakoto, the gentle spirit of the forest

Early in the morning Koto was woken up by a loud noise – it sounded as if someone was crying loudly in the distance. Koto got scared and began to cry, too. Fearfully, Koto looked around to see if anything could be seen around him. Then he saw a shadow in the thicket, jumping from tree to tree. And the shadow came in his direction… Koto desperately tried to get down from the tree, but he had no chance. Gathering all his courage, he shouted out loudly: “Go away, evil spirit! Go away, evil spirit!” – but the shadow did not react and got closer and closer. Koto decided to accept his inevitable fate and waited – eyes closed – for the bad spirit to take him.

But nothing happened. After some time, Koto became curious and opened his eyes.  In front of him, there sat an animal with black and white, dense fur. It was as big as a five-year-old child with a face like that of a dog. Koto rubbed his eyes in confusion and took a closer look.  The animal had five fingers on each hand, just like a human! Carefully, the creature took Koto on his back and jumped with him from branch to branch and from tree to tree, deeper and deeper, until both had almost certainly reached the ground.

Meanwhile, some men from the village had started looking for the missing father and his son. One of the men discovered Koto among the trees and shouted: “Look! There’s Koto, on the back of a strange animal!” The villagers ran to the tree on which the animal was sitting with Koto on his back. Surprised, they discovered that Koto’s dead father was under the same tree. The strange animal above them had adopted Koto and acted like a father to him. Since then the Madagascans have called the helpful being – it was an Indri – “Babakoto”, which means “Koto’s father”.

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