Special Sub-Topic: Where's the Lemur?
|Where do lemurs live in the wild?|
Madagascar. Madagascar was separated from the other continents over 60 million years ago, and lemurs evolved there in complete isolation. They come in many shapes and sizes, to fill various niches in the animal kingdom. They are known as " pro- simians" which means before monkeys. Monkeys and apes evolved in the rest of the world, but lemurs have remained in Madagascar.
|Which of these is not a true lemur? |
flying lemur. Flying lemurs come from the Phillipines,and although they superficially look like lemurs,they do not belong to the prosimian group of primates.
|Where might you go to see ringtail lemurs?|
All of these (Dry forests of southern Madagascar, Berenty private reserve, A zoo). Ringtail lemurs live in dry scrubby and spiny forested areas on southern Madagascar. One of the best known private reserves in the country is Berenty, in this region. If you go there, you will be guaranteed to see wild lemurs. Several television programmes have been made about the ringtails who live there. They also do well in captivity with the right conditions.
|One of the rarest of lemurs was only discovered in 1985, when Ranomafana National Park was established to protect its habitat. What is the name of this lemur?|
golden bamboo lemur. Ranomafana is true rainforest, a very mountainous area in the East of the country. There are three types of bamboo lemur to be found there :- the golden, the greater and the eastern grey. All three species have evolved to live on different types of bamboo. It contains enough cyanide to kill a man, but they can tolerate it with ease!
|Several species of lemur are described as "dancing lemurs" because of the way they move across open ground. What is their group name? |
sifakas. There are 10 different types of sifakas, (prounced "shee-fakk"), the most easily seen being the verreuax sifaka, which can be seen at several reseves in the far south of Madagascar, including Berenty private reserve. They leap effortlessly from tree to tree, but cannot walk across the ground, so they appear to " dance" hopping sideways with their arms raised above their heads.
|All lemurs make some kind of call, but one is best known for having the loudest call, audible up to a mile away. You can find it in Andasibe- Mantadia National Park (also known by its previous French name of Perinet) |
indri. The indri is only found in isolated pockets of rainforest in the central eastern areas of Madagascar. The largest population that is not scared of human visitors in their rainforest is in Andasibe-Matadia National Park,
(also known as Perinet) so that is the best location to try to hear them. Their local name is " babakoto" which means man of the forest. They are up to a metre tall, and look just like black and white teddy bears. Their latin name is Indri indri. It means "Look,Look" in the Malagasy language, which is what the local people said to European naturalists searching for the lemur with the very loud call. Their call is made to establish territory, and unite their family group. They usually call at dawn, mid morning and mid afternoon.
|There is one small group of islands where you can see lemurs other than Madagascar. Which are they?|
Comoro islands. The Comoro islands are a group off the coast of East Africa, and have a few lemurs there. The islands became famous to biologists when a living coelacanth was found in a fishermen's catch. They were believed to be extinct, but now crop up regularly in their coastal waters, a living fossil!
|There is a lemur named after a famous actor and comedian. Who is it? |
John Cleese. A newly- discovered species of woolly lemur, avahi cleesei , or Cleese's woolly lemur, has been named in his honour. The ex Monty Python member has spent time in Madagascar working with and raising funds for biologists working to save these endangered animals. He has also made a film about lemurs.
|The most curious type of lemur has teeth and ears like a rabbit, a long bushy tail, and a naked middle finger that can be used to winkle grubs out of tree trunks, and other tiny cavities. It occupies the niche filled elsewhere in the world by woodpeckers, as there are none on Madagascar. It is very rare but was introduced to an island, Nosy Managabe in the 1960's as a special reserve. What is it called?|
aye-aye. Aye-ayes are nocturnal and extremely shy, and for many years naturalists did not even think they were lemurs, but some other kind of mammal. Some Malagasy tribes regard them as special omens of good luck, but others regard them as evil and kill them on sight. There are a few in captivity in the small zoo in Antananarivo, the capital. Jersey Wildlife Trust, in the English Channel Islands, has been breeding them in captivity there for several years.
|All lemurs are in danger of being wiped out by the activities of one particular animal. Which is it? |
man. Although some lemurs are still killed "for the pot" to feed hungry families, the greatest danger to all of them is loss of habitat. We all need somewhere safe to live! All lemurs are specialised to certain types of area, and all are in danger of being destroyed to make way for farming and other activities of man. There are no big cats such as lions or tigers on Madagascar. The alpha predator on the island, which does kill lemurs, is the fosa. It is a relative of the mongoose.
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