It’s been a 10-year quest for travel writer Mark Stratton to see an aye-aye, one of Madagascar’s rarest lemurs, in the wild. Would this road trip end with a sighting?

Five years ago, I slipped a security guard €5 and snuck into Antananarivo zoo at night. I dislike zoos, but after a fruitless week of nocturnal searches for an aye-aye in Madagascar, I decided to at least see one in the flesh.

I’d duly located a cramped enclosure incarcerating two of these rare lemurs. A bright-orange pair of eyes burned from within the dark recesses of the cage and one shuffled slowly forward. Imagine Dr. Frankenstein cobbling together an identikit nightmare to scare little children? Take an anaemic face with a gargoyle’s comic grotesqueness, add Freddy Krueger’s eviscerating hands, and liberally sprinkle with alopecia.

“If a spaceship were to land on Earth, the creature most likely to emerge from its cargo doors is an aye-aye,” suggested Mark Carwardine and Douglas Adams in their conservation classic Last Chance to See.