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
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.
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