Once upon a time, in a small village in eastern Madagascar, a man entered a forest to collect honey with his son, Koto. Koto was very young and was not able to climb trees on his own, so his father carried him high into a rosewood tree, where they found a beehive.
As they were collecting the honey, it started to rain. Then it rained harder. Thunder and lightning filled the sky, and they knew they needed to get down from the tree quickly. Unfortunately, Koto’s father slipped on the wet branches of the tree and fell to his death, leaving Koto stranded in the high canopy.
Being unable to climb down on his own, Koto huddled under some leaves to protect himself from the rain, and he fell asleep. In the morning, he was woken by a loud, eerie noise echoing through the forest around him. He saw a shadow leaping through the trees, coming straight toward him. Sure that it was an evil spirit, he yelled at the shadow to go away and closed his eyes in fear, waiting for death to take him.
But nothing happened. He tentatively opened his eyes and saw a furry, black-and-white creature staring back at him with an intelligent gaze in its bright eyes. This creature was larger than him, with long arms and legs and fingers just like a human.
This forest spirit reached out for Koto and placed him on his back. He carried him through the forest, back toward the village. Some of the villagers saw Koto on the back of this strange animal before it set the boy down and leaped away through the trees.
After Koto explained what had happened, the villagers realized this helpful creature had adopted Koto and saved his life when his real father had died. They began to call it “Babakoto” – the father of Koto.
The Malagasy still know this animal as the Babakoto, but the rest of the world knows it as the indri. You can meet the Father of Koto on a lemur safari with Natural Habitat Adventures and be enchanted by the call of the indri echoing through the forest of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park.