Sifakas spend most of their time in trees. When foraging, they leap effortlessly from tree to tree, launching themselves vertically with their strong legs. They can cling to even the thorniest of plants in the spiny forests where they live.
Sifakas live in family groups of three to ten individuals and travel together about a half-mile per day. They use scents to mark their territory, but home ranges often overlap. Troop members communicate over big distances through long, deep calls. As with most lemurs, females dominate the males, claiming the choicest food and the best sleeping and sunning spots. Females usually spend their entire lives in the groups they were born into, whereas males migrate to neighboring groups once they reach maturity at four or five years of age. Throughout their lifetime, males move between groups several times.
Sifakas are herbivores, and not the pickiest of eaters. They eat the leaves, buds, bark, flowers, and fruits of up to 98 different plant species.
Like most lemurs, sifakas breed seasonally. After a gestation of five to six months, usually around July or August, females give birth to one tiny, furry baby. Newborns ride on their mother’s belly for the first month, then graduate to riding on her back. By two months of age they have learned the basics of leaping, and claim the treetops as their own by about six months of age. Young reach adult size at one year old. Sifakas can live to be about 18.
Some of My Neighbors
Brown lemurs, Gray mouse lemurs, Hawks, Fossa
Population Status & Threats
The Coquerel’s sifaka is considered endangered. Slash-and-burn agriculture is consuming more and more of the trees that these lemurs depend on in their forest home. As a result of the deforestation, these lemurs are becoming increasingly isolated and more vulnerable.
WCS Conservation Efforts
WCS has worked in Madagascar for over 13 years in site-based programs and on species-based conservation. Poverty and unsustainable resource use threaten the survival of the island’s wildlife and have dramatic impacts on the mostly rural population. However, Madagascar has adopted a new vision for the sustainable development of the country. WCS is a key partner in this country-wide conservation plan, helping to establish new protected areas and involve local communities in development and conservation plans. Learn more about WCS work in Madagascar.
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