Lemurs are prosimians, which are a type of primate. Other more familiar primates include monkeys, apes, and humans. Lemurs are found only on the African island of Madagascar and here they evolved in isolation. Unlike monkeys, lemurs have a moist nose and rely more heavily on their sense of smell. Physically many have especially pointed snouts and all but the largest lemur, the indri, have long tails. Today we know there are more than 100 kinds of lemur and new species are continuing to be described by scientists.
As reported in the journal Science, lemurs are now “the most threatened mammal group on Earth.” The lemur taxa categorized as “threatened” shot up from 74% to 94% between 2008 and 2012. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that, at current rates, 90 species of lemurs face extinction in the next 20 years.
Lemurs at the Myakka City Reserve
Six lemur species live at LCF: collared lemurs (Eulemur collaris), common brown lemurs (Eulemur fulvus), mongoose lemurs (Eulemur mongoz), Sanford’s lemurs (Eulemur sanfordi), ringtailed lemurs (Lemur catta), and red ruffed lemurs (Varecia rubra).
LCF initially focused on common brown lemurs, but the colony has expanded to accommodate other species in cooperation with other conservation groups. LCF’s lemurs offer scientists and students research opportunities with the goal of improving conservation practices.
Through managed breeding coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, LCF has also contributed to the genetic diversity of captive mongoose, brown, and collared lemurs. These births help stave off total species extinction.
Common Brown Lemur
Sanford’s Brown Lemur
Collared Brown Lemur
Red Ruffed Lemur
Lemurs of Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve
Located in the northeast, Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve (ASSR) is LCF’s main focal site for work in Madagascar. Here there are at least 11 lemur species, including some of the most threatened such as the silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus) and indri (Indri indri). Through a diverse conservation strategy, LCF is working to protect the lemur populations of ASSR through improved habitat management and scientific study.
Northern Bamboo Lemur
Eastern Woolly Lemur
White-fronted Brown Lemur
Seal’s Sportive Lemur
Mittermeier’s Mouse Lemur
Hairy-eared Mouse Lemur
Photo by Nick Garbutt
Greater Dwarf Lemur
Photo by Alex Hyde