The first World Lemur Day was celebrated in 2014 and it has continued ever since. Its aims are to awaken pride for lemurs in Malagasy people, improve the country’s economy through tourism, and promote lemur conservation and education worldwide.
Lemurs are endemic to Madagascar, thanks to its separation from mainland Africa around 160 million years ago. Whereas elsewhere the evolution of monkeys quickly drove other less intelligent and adaptable primates, including the early ancestors of lemurs, to extinction, on Madagascar monkeys didn’t appear and lemurs were left to evolve into the dominant primates. They thrived on the island until the arrival of humans some 2,000 years ago. Since then they have been under threat from deforestation (caused by slash and burn farming) and from hunting. Today nearly all lemurs are considered to be endangered species.
Despite this, Madagascar is still home to over 110 species of lemurs ranging in size from the pygmy mouse lemur to the indri. All are endemic to the island, therefore unique. And new species are still being discovered; between 2000 and 2008, 39 new species were described.
Of course in our short visit to just a handful of the national parks and reserves we only saw a fraction of the lemur species, eleven in all. For Amy’s Lens Artists challenge on the theme of ‘unique’ I present a gallery of my favourite lemur shots. Some have already appeared in previous Madagascar posts and others will no doubt do so in the future. But I couldn’t resist the opportunity to sum up our encounters and bring all the species (or those I succeeded in photographing) together.
Eastern woolly lemur or Avahi laniger
Nocturnal, status vulnerable, seen on a night walk in the V.O.I.M.M.A. community-run reserve, and almost impossible to photograph!
Goodman’s mouse lemur or Microcebus lehilahytsara
Nocturnal, status near threatened, seen on a night walk in the V.O.I.M.M.A. community-run reserve, and definitely impossible to photograph!
Indri or Indri indri
Diurnal, status critically endangered, seen in Analamazaotra Park (on the left) and V.O.I.M.M.A. community-run reserve (on the right).
Diademed sifaka or Propithecus diadema
Diurnal, status critically endangered, seen in Analamazaotra Park.
Common brown lemur or Eulemur fulvus
Status near threatened (population decreasing), seen on Lemur Island (a private reserve) and in the V.O.I.M.M.A. community-run reserve (last shot below, on the path).
Black and white ruffed lemur or Varecia variegata
Diurnal, status critically endangered, seen on Lemur Island.
Eastern lesser bamboo lemur (aka the Grey bamboo lemur) or Hapalemur griseus griseus)
Diurnal, status endangered, seen on Lemur Island (a private reserve).
Sanford’s brown lemur or Eulemur sanfordi
Diurnal (but also active at night), status endangered, seen in Montaigne D’ambre national park.
Ankarana sportive lemur or Lepilemur ankaranensis
Nocturnal, status endangered (population declining), seen resting in the day in Tsingy Est.
Black lemur or Eulemur macaco
Diurnal (but also active at night), status endangered, seen at Baobab Beach (also in my featured photo).
Fork-marked lemur, I think Pariente’s fork-marked lemur or Phaner parienti
Nocturnal, status endangered, seen at Baobab Beach and only possible to capture in a video which I shared here.
I’m sharing these beautiful animals with Ju-Lyn too, for her Happy Place, Happy Space challenge.
I visited Madagascar in October/November 2023