The journey of the lemurs through the forests of Madagascar

Posted on 07 October 2020

In recent decades, Madagascar's forests have been drastically reduced. Recent studies have shown that from 2005 to 2010, Madagascar had a deforestation rate of 0.4%. It is suspected that this rate would have increased during the political crisis from 2009 to 2013.
However, almost all lemurs live in these forests. Most have had to adapt to survive in a variety of environments over the centuries. Historically, lemurs have travelled all over the island and have gone from forest to forest through forest corridors depending on the seasons and temperatures.

The Silky Sifaka can only be found in the mid-altitude rainforests of South Anjanaharibe and Marojejy (between 700m - 1900m altitude) and in the forest corridor that links these two mountains. The Silky Sifaka's body and diet are well adapted to this environment: it eats mainly leaves, seeds, flowers and fruits. In fact, it would not tolerate another climate if moved away and may not survive.

The Maki catta or Lemur catta, on the other hand, is more adaptable. It is mainly found in the spiny forests of southern Madagascar, but it is able to live in a variety of environments as explained in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Many people capture Maki catta to eat its meat but also to raise it in captivity because even in these conditions it could survive. Scientists estimate that the Maki catta population in Madagascar has decreased by 50% in 36 years.

On the other hand, the destruction of forests is a cause of the displacement of lemurs, this is confirmed by the Red List of Threatened Species published by the IUCN which states that 31% of all lemur species in Madagascar are now critically endangered.

Did you know that lemurs actively participate in the regeneration of forests because the seeds of the fruits they digest are transformed into young plants? The lemurs are thus seed disseminators that participate in the reforestation of Madagascar. On October 30th, let's take a moment to appreciate the services that lemurs provide us and let's celebrate together the National Day of Lemurs under the theme: "Lemurs and their habitat: heritage to be preserved".