The island of Madagascar is found off the east coast of Africa and is known mainly for one thing; lemurs. This endemic group of mammals makes up more than 100 entirely different species. Of added intrigue, none of which live anywhere else in the world. Travelers flock to the country’s national parks and rainforest reserves for a chance to see some of these incredible animals in the wild. Unfortunately, Madagascar’s lemurs are in great trouble. Habitat-loss awareness is one of the best ways to help protect Madagascar’s lemurs. Read on to learn about some of the island’s most interesting and well-known lemur species. These fascinating creatures will have you reaching for your passport and booking a trip to Madagascar in no time!
Identifying Lemur Species on Your Trip to Madagascar
We’ll start with the most famous of Madagascar’s lemurs. Many will recognize identify this species with King Julian in the blockbuster animated film set on the island. Today, Ring-tailed lemurs are a popular attraction in many zoos throughout the world. In the wild, however, their numbers have crashed to lows of around 2,000, making them an endangered species. They are instantly recognizable by their long black and white ringed tails. To that end, Ring-tailed lemurs are a wildlife favorite of sightseers visiting the southern part of Madagascar. They inhabit forests and scrub, both habitats which humans have severely degraded over the years.
The aye-aye is the thing of nightmares. Piercing orange eyes, unusually long middle fingers, and rodent-like teeth, this species is one of the less beautiful lemur species. Found mainly along the western coast of Madagascar, the aye-aye is the world’s largest nocturnal primate. The aye-aye comes out at night to feast on grubs which is where its long fingers come in handy. Generally, feeding time means gnawing through tree trunks and inserting its long middle finger to pull the insects out. An evolutionary marvel, the aye-aye is an endangered species. This is mainly because the Malagasy people consider the aye-aye to be evil and will routinely kill the animal. Education and habitat protection is the best way to conserve this species. Thankfully, this is one of few lemur species which has been successfully bred in captivity.
Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur
Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur holds the distinct accolade of being the world’s smallest primate. With an average body length of just 9cm. This critically endangered species inhabits just one tiny patch of jungle, the Kirindy Forest in western Madagascar. To this end, current forest protection measures have yielded only marginal progress. For this reason, corrective action to protect and restore the forest is critical to keep this incredible creature from going extinct within the next decade. How many lemur species will you discover during your trip to Madagascar?
The stunning black and white indri is one of the largest lemur species, weighing up to 9.5kg. Living in small family groups, it is a herbivore, moving slowly through its rainforest home in search of seeds, berries, and leaves. Unlike the aye-aye, the Indri is revered by the Malagasy people. Thankfully this reverence helps in its protection. Despite this benefit, the indri is still critically endangered, with habitat destruction leading to a population crash. Indris cannot survive in captivity, making this species one of the priorities for conservation organizations such as the Lemur Conservation Network and Duke Lemur Center. For this purpose, both are working tirelessly to protect and restore lemur habitat, the key to saving the species.
Greater Bamboo Lemur
As you can see, lemurs are in a dire situation, with many species under serious threat of extinction. There is always hope, however, as supported by the story of the greater bamboo lemur. Thought extinct decades ago, the Greater Bamboo Lemur was rediscovered in 1986, living in a fragment of surviving forest. Since then, more than 11-subpopulations now are identified living in the south and central Madagascar. Currently, the population has dwindled to an estimated 500 individuals. The species remains critically endangered, but this good news story shows that no lemur species is doomed. There is the potential to save all 115 lemur species if conservationists work together with the Malagasy government.
Trip to Madasgascar Summary
To summarize, Lemurs are one of the most fascinating groups of animals to be found on Earth. Albeit confined to just one island. All in all, there is nothing else like them, and each individual species is as charismatic as the next. Lemurs are in trouble, but a lot of work is going on behind the scenes to save these amazing animals. Only time will tell if this is successful. If you’d like to take a trip to Madagascar you will be funding this conservation effort by visiting reserves, helping to fund lemur preservation. Tourism revenue will hopefully provide proof positive to the Madagascan’s that lemurs are worth more to them alive than dead. If you’re considering unique vacation destinations, you will never regret the decision to book a Madagascar holiday!