Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The golden bamboo lemur feeds on young shoots, creepers and leaf bases of the endemic giant bamboo (Cephalostachium viguieri) (4), and has evolved to be resistant to the high concentrations of cyanide found within the tissues of this plant (3). Around 500 g of bamboo are eaten every day; this represents roughly 12 times the usual mammalian lethal dose of cyanide (4). Main peaks of activity occur at dusk and dawn, but it is probably also active at some points during the night (4). It lives in family groups of between 2 to 6 individuals (5). Females give birth in November and December (3).
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Description

The critically endangered golden bamboo lemur is one of the world's most endangered mammals. It has pale orange fur on the back with grey to brown guard hairs and yellowish underparts (4). The face is black, and drawn into a short muzzle, with golden eyebrows, cheeks and throat, and short hairy ears (4). Males and females are generally similar in appearance, but females are often slightly more greyish on the back (4).
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Distribution

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

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Range Description

This species is known from the rain forests of southeastern Madagascar, at elevations of 600-1,400 m asl, where it can be found in and around Ranomafana National Park (where discovered in 1983 and not known from north of Miaronony), Andringitra National Park (discovered in 1993), to the north-east possibly to the region of Betsakafandrika, and in a forest corridor that connects Ranomafana with Andringitra National Park (Mittermeier et al. 2008, and references therein).
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Range

Endemic to Madagascar, this species was first described by western science in 1987. It is found in the southeast of Madagascar, in Ranomafana National Park and was discovered in Andringitra Nature Reserve in 1993 (5).
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Physical Description

Morphology

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

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Ecology

Habitat

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

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is found in humid forests and marshes with bamboo and reeds. The Golden Bamboo Lemur is a diurnal species with a distinct midday rest period. It lives in small groups, usually of three to four individuals, that maintain home ranges of up 30 ha. Females typically give birth to a single young in November and December after a gestation of about 138 days. The young are born in an altricial state and are kept safe in dense vegetation for the first two weeks of life. Based on studies at Ranomafana National Park, as much as 90% of this lemur’s diet may consist of bamboo, the majority of which is the giant bamboo (Cathariostachys madagascariensis) (Mittermeier et al. 2008, and references therein). Glander et al. (1989) found astonishingly high levels of cyanide in the shoots of giant bamboo as well as in the blood and feces of the golden bamboo lemur, and suggest that similar levels in the diets of other mammals would be lethal. Presumably, this tolerance to dietary toxins allows H.aureus to live in sympatry with three other bamboo-eating lemurs, H. meridionalis, H. g. ranomafanensis and Prolemur simus, all of which appear to avoid either plant species or plant parts with high cyanide levels (Wright and Randrimanantena 1989.)

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Inhabits forests that contain giant bamboo, Cephalostachium viguieri (3).
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Trophic Strategy

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 )

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Associations

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.

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Predation on these animals has not been reported. However, likely predators include humans, fossas, and raptors.

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Life History and Behavior

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.

(Nowak, 1999)

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

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.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Little is known about the longevity of these animals, but one 11.4 year old specimen was still alive in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

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.

(Harcourt, 1990)

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)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

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

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
CR
Critically Endangered

Red List Criteria
C2a(i)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
Andriaholinirina, N., Baden, A., Blanco, M., Chikhi, L., Cooke, A., Davies, N., Dolch, R., Donati, G., Ganzhorn, J., Golden, C., Groeneveld, L.F., Hapke, A., Irwin, M., Johnson, S., Kappeler, P., King, T., Lewis, R., Louis, E.E., Markolf, M., Mass, V., Mittermeier, R.A., Nichols, R., Patel, E., Rabarivola, C.J., Raharivololona, B., Rajaobelina, S., Rakotoarisoa, G., Rakotomanga, B., Rakotonanahary, J., Rakotondrainibe, H., Rakotondratsimba, G., Rakotondratsimba, M., Rakotonirina, L., Ralainasolo, F.B., Ralison, J., Ramahaleo, T., Ranaivoarisoa, J.F., Randrianahaleo, S.I., Randrianambinina, B., Randrianarimanana, L., Randrianasolo, H., Randriatahina, G., Rasamimananana, H., Rasolofoharivelo, T., Rasoloharijaona, S., Ratelolahy, F., Ratsimbazafy, J., Ratsimbazafy, N., Razafindraibe, H., Razafindramanana, J., Rowe, N., Salmona, J., Seiler, M., Volampeno, S., Wright, P., Youssouf, J., Zaonarivelo, J. & Zaramody, A.

Reviewer/s
Schwitzer, C. & Molur, S.

Contributor/s

Justification

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.


History
  • 2000
    Critically Endangered
  • 1996
    Critically Endangered
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
  • 1996
    Critically Endangered
  • 1994
    Endangered
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Endangered
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1990
    Endangered
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Indeterminate
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
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Status

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR- A2cd) in the IUCN Red List 2002 (1), listed in Appendix I of CITES (7).
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Population

Population
This species has a patchy distribution and typically occurs at low densities. Estimated density is 0.21 individuals/km2 with a total estimated population of 69 within Ranomafana National Park. These data are based on over a hundred transect surveys from 2004 to 2009. An estimated 630 individuals remain in total, with less than 250 mature individuals. Population numbers are in decline due to habitat loss and hunting.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The major threat is habitat loss due to slash-and-burn agriculture and harvesting for bamboo for building houses, carrying water, making baskets and other local uses. Hunting is also a threat in some parts of the range.
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This lemur is mainly threatened by habitat loss through slash-and-burn agriculture (3), although it may also be under threat from hunting for food and for the pet trade (5). Recent estimates believe that there are under 400 individuals remaining in the wild (4).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES. This species has a notably small and patchy distribution and typically occurs at low population densities. It is known to occur in two national parks (Andringitra and Ranomafana). The Ranomafana / Andringitra forest corridor has been proposed as a conservation unit in conjunction with efforts to propagate and re-establish stands of bamboo varieties that serve as food for this species. In 2005 the total world population was estimated at probably less than 2,500. As of 2010, this species was not being kept in captivity (ISIS 2009; E.E. Louis Jr. pers. comm.).




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Conservation

In 1991, three areas of land around the village of Ranomafana were designated as Ranomafana National Park. Furthermore, the area in Andringitra that supports this species is a strict nature reserve and made the transition to a National Park in October 1999 (6). The species within these areas are therefore afforded a degree of protection (5), but slash-and-burn agriculture is encroaching at the park boundaries (3). Although Malagasey law forbids the hunting, killing and capturing of all lemurs (4), problems may still arise as the law is difficult to enforce (5). At present there is a very small captive population in Madagascar, but there is no co-ordinated breeding programme (5).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Hapalemur aureus has no known adverse effects on humans.

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These lemurs are of great interest to the scientific community.

Positive Impacts: research and education

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Wikipedia

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).[4] 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.[5]

The golden bamboo lemur is crepuscular. It is 28–45 cm long plus a tail of 24–40 cm, and weighs on average 1.6 kg.[5]

Females give birth to one infant per year and breed every year. The gestation period is about 138 days.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b 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. 
  2. ^ "Checklist of CITES Species". CITES. UNEP-WCMC. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ "187. Golden Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur aureus)". Edge of Existence. Zoological Society of London. 
  5. ^ a b c "Golden Bamboo Lemur". Animal Info. 
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