Found only on the island of Madagascar, Hapalemur aureus is patchily distributed through small rain forest areas in the southeast. (Meier et. al., 1987)
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
Other Geographic Terms: island endemic
About the size of a domesticated cat, H. aureus has a total body length of around 800 mm, the tail comprising half of this. Individuals weigh between 1.2 and 1.6 kg. The soft fur is of moderate length and the muzzle is short. The head is globose and ears are short and hairy but not tufted. The face is black with golden-yellow eyebrows, cheeks and throat. Underparts are yellow, although dorsally there are grey-brown guardhairs with underfur of pale orange. There is no obvious sexual dichromatism, although females tend to be more greyish dorsally.
(Meier et. al., 1987; Harcourt, 1990)
Range mass: 1.2 to 1.6 kg.
Average length: 800 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike
Madagascar Subhumid Forests Habitat
The Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur (Hapalemur griseus aloatrensis) is strictly endemic to the Madagascar subhumid forests ecoregion. This ecoregion, coveris most of the Central Highlands of Madagascar, and boasts a considerable number of endemic species, found chiefly in the relict forest patches and also in some wetland areas. The rainfall here is approximately 1500 mm per year, although it may amount to as much as 2000 mm in the Sambirano area in the northwest and as little as 600 mm in the southwest.
The underlying geology of the ecoregion is mainly ancient Precambrian basement rocks that have been deformed and uplifted over millions of years. There are a few areas of more recent lava flows, and some alluvial deposits associated with wetlands. Vast grasslands now cover much of the central highlands at elevations ranging from 1000 to 1500 metres. The majority of this upland area was formerly forested, and native peoples have affected the fauna and flora through massive deforestation.
Many mammalian taxa are endemic to this ecoregion, including a number of lemurs and numerous shrews, tenrecs and rodents. A far larger number of species are near endemic, with the majority of these shared with the lowland forests to the east. At least 45 species of mammals are found only in the subhumid forest ecoregion and the lowland forest ecoregion of Madagascar and these include, for example, two species of bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur aureus and H. simus).
Of the endemic and near-endemic mammal species in the ecoregion, 12 species listed are on the IUCN Red List; nine species are considered vulnerable; two are endangered and one (the Alaotran gentle lemur) is critical. In the Analavelona forest a species of small mammal was recently discovered, Microgale nasoloi, that is only known from this site and the nearby Zombitse-Vohibasia Forest, the latter being classified in the Madagascar succulent woodlands ecoregion. In addition to the large number of mammalian endemics, there are many special status mammals in the ecoregion, including the Vulnerable Aquatic tenrec (Limnogale mergulus); the Near Threatened Aye aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis);
Two endemic bird species are found in the wetlands of this ecoregion, and others are confined to the subhumid forests or shared with other Madagascar ecoregions. In the wetlands, both the Alaotra little grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus) and the Madagascar pochard (Aythya innotata), are considered critically endangered and may be extinct. In the forests the endemic species include, for example, a new genus and species only named a few years ago called the cryptic warbler (Cryptosylvicola randrianasoloi), the yellow-browed oxylabes (Crossleyia xanthophrys), and the brown emutail (Dromaeocercus brunneus). Several other species of birds found here are limited to marshland habitats on Madagascar, including the slender-billed flufftail (Sarothrura watersi), Madagascar snipe (Gallinago macrodactyla), and Madagascar rail (Rallus madagascariensis). Further, Appert’s greenbul (Xanthomixis apperti), an endemic species with a very limited geographical distribution, is abundant on the upper reaches of the Analavelona Massif. More than 20 other bird species that occur in the subhumid forests of this ecoregion are shared only with the eastern lowland forests ecoregion.
The Madagascar subhumid forests hold more than twenty strictly endemic amphibians. Several groups of amphibians include more than one endemic species, such as the microhylids Rhombophryne testudo, Scaphiophryne goettliebi, the mantellids Vulnerable Elegant Madagascar frog (Spinomantis elegans); Mantella crocea, M. cowani, M. eiselti, Mantidactylus domerguei, and the Near Threatened Decary's Madagascar frog (Gephiyromantis decaryi); and the rhacophorids Boophis laurenti and B. microtympanum. Other notable amphibian endemics include:the Benavony stump-toed frog (Stumpffia gimmeli)/
There are a number of special status amphibians in the ecoregion including the Near Threatened Ambohimitombo bright-eyed frog (Boophis majori); the Vulnerable Andoany stump-toed frog (Stumpffia pygmaea); the Endangered Andringitra Madagascar Frog (Mantidactylus madecassus); and the Near Threatened Betsileo Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis rhodoscelis).
There are at least 25 strictly endemic reptiles in this ecoregion. These numbers include historically described species as well as newly identified taxa. Numerous speciess of chameleon and dwarf chameleon only occur in this ecoregion, including Calumma oshaughnessyi ambreensis, C. tsaratananensis, Furcifer petteri, Brookesia ambreesis, B. antakarana, B. lineata, and B. lolontany in the northern and northwestern portion; and C. fallax, F. campani, and F. minor in the central and southern portions. Otpher lizard species endemic to the ecoregion include the skinks Mabuya grnadidieri, M. madagascariensis, M. nancycoutouae, Amphiglossus meva, and Androngo crenni; the geckos Lygodactylus blanci, L. decaryi and Phelsuma klemmeri, and the Plated lizard Zonosaurus ornatus. There are also a few endemic species of snakes including Pseudoxyrhopus ankafinensis, Liopholidophis grandidieri, and L. sexlineatus.
- Du Puy, D.J. and Moat, J. 1996. A refined classification of the primary vegetation of Madagascar based on the underlying geology: using GIS to map its distribution and to assess its conservation status. In W.R. Lourenço (editor). Biogéographie de Madagascar, pp. 205-218, + 3 maps. Editions de l’ORSTOM, Paris. ISBN: 2709913240
- World Wildlife Fund and C.MIchael Hogan/. 2015. Madagascar subhumid forests. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and Environment. Washington DC
Hapalemur aureus is found only in rain forest. Distribution of these animals is closely linked with bamboo (Glander, et. al, 1989).
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest
Habitat and Ecology
An herbivore, H. aureus feeds almost exclusively on plants from the family Gramineae, primarily on endemic giant bamboo, Cephalostachium viguieri, but also on bamboo creeper and bamboo grass. These lemurs eat the shoots, leaf bases, pith and viny parts of these bamboos.
Chemical analysis has shown that the soft stalks and growing tips that Hapalemur prefers, which are ignored by the other lemurs, are very high in protein as well as cyanide. Golden bamboo lemurs eat about 500 g of bamboo each day, which contains 12 times the amount of cyanide lethal to most animals.
(Meier et. al., 1987; Glander et. al., 1989)
Plant Foods: leaves
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )
The ecosystem roles of these animals are not well understood. As herbivores, they may impact the plant community. As potential prey items, these lemurs may help to structure local food webs.
Predation on these animals has not been reported. However, likely predators include humans, fossas, and raptors.
Life History and Behavior
Hapalemur aureus is social, and like other primates has complicated forms of communication. Scent marking apparently occurs, based on morphological study of scent glands on wrists, indicating that these animals use chemical communication. They also communicate with vocalizations and visual signals, such as facial expressions and body postures. Finally, tactile communication (grooming, playing, aggression) is likely to be important to these animals as well.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Other Communication Modes: scent marks
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Data on the longevity of H. aureus are not available. However, another member of the genus, H. griseus is reported to have lived longer than 17 years in captivity. Hapalemur aureus is probably similarly long-lived.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
These animals appear to live in small family groups with a single adult male and one or two adult females. This indicates that H. aureus breeds either monogamously or polygynously. (Nowak, 1999)
Mating System: monogamous ; polygynous
The only observed breeding of this species was that of the pair taken into captivity at Parc Tsimbazaza in 1987, which has sucessfully bred four times, with three of the young surviving.
The following data on reproduction come from another member of the same genus, Hapalemur griseus, to which H. aureus may bear some similarity.
Hapalemur griseus gives birth to one or two young in October to February. As the gestation period of this species is 135 to 150 days in length, we may assume that mating occurs from May through September. In captivity, a newborn of this species weighed 32 g. It was initially carried ventrally by the mother, but later rode on her back. Weaning in H. griseus occurs around 20 weeks of age.
Breeding interval: It seems likely that these lemurs would be like other members of the family, and that they would breed annually.
Breeding season: The breeding season of these animals has not been documented.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous
Parental behaviors have not been reported for these lemurs. It is likely that the bulk of care for young is provided by the mother, who grooms, protects, and feeds her young.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)
This extremely rare species is thought to have a total population of only 200 to 400 individuals. All populations are highly endangered by habitat destruction, particularly from slash and burn agriculture and timber exploitation, and may well become extinct. Listed in Appendix A of CITES, Class A of the African Convention and protected by Malagasy law, golden bamboo lemurs and their products are subject to strict regulation. This species may not be hunted, killed or captured, but it is difficult to enforce this protection.
(Meier et. al., 1987; Harcourt, 1990)
US Federal List: endangered
CITES: appendix i
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
This species has a very small remaining population size. The number of mature individuals is <250 and is continuing in decline. The number of mature individuals in each subpopulation is <50. Based on these premises, the species is listed as Critically Endangered.
- 2000Critically Endangered
- 1996Critically Endangered(Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
- 1996Critically Endangered
- 1994Endangered(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Endangered(IUCN 1990)
- 1990Endangered(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Indeterminate(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Hapalemur aureus has no known adverse effects on humans.
These lemurs are of great interest to the scientific community.
Positive Impacts: research and education
Golden bamboo lemur
The golden bamboo lemur (Hapalemur aureus, Malagasy bokombolomena) is a medium-sized bamboo lemur endemic to southeastern Madagascar. It was discovered in 1986 by Dr. Patricia Wright, in what is now Ranomafana National Park. The park was opened in 1991 to protect this endangered lemur, as well as several other lemur species and other flora and fauna.
It is listed as an endangered species due to habitat loss. The population is declining, with only about 1,000 individuals remaining. As its name indicates, this lemur feeds almost exclusively on grasses, especially the giant bamboo or volohosy (Cathariostachys madagascariensis). The growing shoots of this bamboo contain 0.015% (1 part in 6667) of cyanide. Each adult lemur eats about 500 g (18 oz) of bamboo per day, which contain about 12 times the lethal dose of cyanide for most other animals of this size.
Females give birth to one infant per year and breed every year. The gestation period is about 138 days.
- Andriaholinirina, N. et al. (2014). "Hapalemur aureus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
- "Checklist of CITES Species". CITES. UNEP-WCMC. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
- Groves, C. P. (2005). "Hapalemur aureus". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 116. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- "187. Golden Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur aureus)". Edge of Existence. Zoological Society of London.
- "Golden Bamboo Lemur". Animal Info.
To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!