This handsome member of the ‘true lemur’ family is the best-known Malagasy creature, the face of the island’s biodiversity. It is also the best-studied of the island’s lemurs, and even gives its name to a popular souvenir shop. Although females are socially dominant, male Ring-tailed Lemurs still vie for the attention of females. They stage ‘jumping fights’ in which they slash at each other with their upper canines. They also engage in ‘stink fights’ in which they ritually waft scent at each other.
DISTRIBUTION: Found in the southern third of Madagascar in a range of habitats, from spiny forest up to the high mountains of Andringitra. Despite its extensive range, its actual distribution is quite fragmented. Like most lemurs, it is threatened by forest clearance for charcoal, pasture and agriculture; hunting for food; and capture as pets.
ID: Black eye patches and a ringed tail make it unmistakable.
VOICE: Plaintive hoots and raucous chattering, often given in concert by groups.
BEHAVIOUR: Lives in mixed-sex groups of up to 30, in which females are dominant. Typically, a single infant is born in September. Diet consists of a large variety of plant material, plus small animals.
WHERE TO SEE: Berenty is famous for this species. It can also be found in Isalo and Andringitra NPs, as well as in the small community-run Parc Anja near Ambalavao along the RN7 highway.
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