Like a cross between a cat and a mongoose, and the size of a small puma, Cryptoprocta ferox is a savage, arboreal hunter. The first part of its scientific name means “hidden backside”, referring (disappointingly) to its unique, flap-covered anus. The fossa’s genitalia are, however, memorably spectacular – the male possessing a large, spiny penis supported by a bone, and the female a similarly disproportionate and spiky clitoris. The annual fossa mating season at Kirindy happens almost like clockwork, between November 5 and 20, with each female in heat occupying her favourite branch high in the forest, where she remains for hours, locked together with one noisy suitor after another.
Out of the breeding season, you still have a good chance of seeing a fossa as one or two individuals regularly come to Kirindy Camp to forage for food. Staff feed them meat scraps dangled from a pole, luring the creature up a tree in order to demonstrate the fearsome strength of its formidable splayed feet and semi-retractile claws, as it climbs up and down with svelte agility, balanced by its long tail. Small children need to be kept well away: fossas are brazen and utterly instinctive predators.