Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Very little is known about the natural ecology and behaviour of the greater bamboo lemur. Groups composed of 4 to 7 individuals (and occasionally up to 12) have been observed but little else is known about their social structure and interactions (3). As its common name suggests, this species specialises on eating bamboo, a trait that is highly unusual amongst mammals (5). Almost 98% of the diet is made up of this low-energy food, especially giant bamboo (Cephalostachium viguieri). These lemurs prefer the inner pith of the plant, stripping away the outer layers in a destructive manner (3).
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Description

Prolemur simus is the largest of the bamboo lemurs (5). A dense olive-brown coat covers the rounded body, whilst the underparts and tail are grey-brown in colour with a russet tinge (3). As well as its large size, the greater bamboo lemur can be recognised by the prominent pale grey or white ear tufts (3). However, a recently discovered population of this species has a strikingly different deep golden-red coat, and no ear tufts (3). The blunt muzzles of bamboo lemurs give their faces a more rounded appearance than other members of the family. They have relatively long tails and long back legs for leaping vertically amongst the trees of their forest habitat (3).
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Distribution

Range Description

Subfossil remains confirm that this species once had a widespread distribution in Madagascar that covered the northern, north-western, central and eastern portions of Madagascar, including Ampasambazimba in the Itasy Basin (west of Antananarivo), the Grotte d?Andrafiabe on the Ankarana Massif, and the Grottes d?Anjohibe near Mahajanga and Tsingy de Bemaraha (Mittermeier et al. 2008).

Today, the species has a much diminished range in the south-eastern and south-central rainforests of Madagascar. Wright et al. (2008), who estimated that P. simus now occupies only about 1-4% of its historical range, reported confirmed sightings of Greater Bamboo Lemurs in only 11 of 70 survey localities with a latitudinal range of 18°52' to 22°26'S. Five of these sightings were in or around the protected areas of Ranomafana National Park (Miaranony, Talatakely and Ambatolahy Dimy), and Andringitra National Park (Manambolo, Camp 2). An additional unconfirmed observation occurred here (Korokoto). Another five sightings were in unprotected forests at Kianjavato and Karianga, and outside Evendra, Morafeno and Mahasoa. Finally, they were observed in Torotorofotsy, the only locality north of Ranomafana National Park situated about 10 km north-west of Andasibe. The elevation range for confirmed sightings is 121?1,600 m (Wright et al. 2008).
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Geographic Range

Greater bamboo lemurs, Prolemur simus, are currently endemic to Madagascar.  Although subfossil remains indicate they once had a widespread distribution covering the northern, north-western, central, and eastern parts of Madagascar, this species currently occupies only 1 to 4 % of its original historical habitat. Greater bamboo lemurs are generally restricted to the protected areas of Ranomafana National Park located in southeastern Madagascar. Sightings of these lemurs are few although there have been a few sightings of lemur populations living in the Andringrita Massif and near Vondrozo in Madagascar.

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

  • 2003. "Arkive: Images of Life on Earth" (On-line). Greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus). Accessed February 12, 2009 at http://www.arkive.org/greater-bamboo-lemur/prolemur-simus/facts-and-status.html.
  • Andrainarivo, C., V. Andriaholinirina, A. Feistner, T. Felix, J. Ganzhorn, N. Garbutt, C. Golden, B. Konstant, J. Louis, D. Meyers, R. Mittermeier, A. Perieras, F. Princee, J. Rabarivola, B. Rakotosamimanana, H. Rasamimanana, J. Ratsimbazafy, G. Raveloarinoro, A. Razafimanantsoa, Y. Rumpler, C. Schwitzer, U. Thalmann, L. Wilmé, P. Wright. 2008. "The 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Prolemur simus. Accessed March 12, 2009 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/9674.
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Range

Endemic to Madagascar, fossil evidence suggests that the greater bamboo lemur was originally widespread in northern, central and eastern areas of the island (3). Today, however, this species is restricted to areas in and around the Ranomafana National Park of southeastern Madagascar, although data on distribution is scarce and populations may also exist in the Andringitra Massif and near to Vondrozo (3).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Greater bamboo lemurs are the largest bamboo-eating lemurs found in Madagascar. They have a head and body length of 40 to 45 cm and a tail length of 43 to 48 cm. Their tails and back legs are relatively long. Females weigh up to 2.1 kg whereas males weigh up to 2.4 kg. Their coat color ranges from a reddish-grey to an olive brown. A prominent feature of this species is the presence of tufts of white fur by their ears. However, a recently discovered population of this species, golden bamboo lemurs, have a deep golden-red coat and surprisingly no ear tufts. Greater bamboo lemurs have a blunt muzzle which gives their face a rounded appearance distinguishing them from other members of their family.

Range mass: 2.1 to 2.4 kg.

Range length: 40 to 45 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is associated with forests abundant in giant bamboo. It subsists predominantly on bamboo, but its diet includes seven plant species representing three different families. In Ranomafana National Park, the bamboo Cathariostachys madagascariensis can account for as much as 95% of the diet, with shoots, young and mature leaves, and pith being consumed (Tan 1999, 2000). The patchiness of this bamboo species may be one factor limiting the current distribution and population continuity of P. simus, as this key food species is not found in all forest microhabitats, and is apparently limited to forest near large rivers. The availability of drinking water could also be a limiting factor, as during dry months in Ranomafana National Park, P. simus was the only lemur species seen regularly coming to streams to drink water (Wright et al. 2008).

Observations of wild populations and animals in captivity suggest that this species is cathemeral, active both during the day and at night throughout the year. They live in polygamous groups that can occupy home ranges of 40-60 ha or more. Mating begins in May or June, with infants typically born in October and November. Females usually give birth to a single young each year (Mittermeier et al. 2008, and references therein).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Greater bamboo lemurs reside in humid primary rainforests in which giant bamboo trees are abundant. They make their homes in bamboo thickets. This species has been recorded at elevations of 121 to 1,600 m.

Range elevation: 121 to 1600 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical

Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest

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Found in humid primary rainforests where there are giant bamboo trees (Cephalostachium viguieri) (2) (3).
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

98% of the diet of greater bamboo lemurs consists of the bamboo species Cathariostachys madagascariensis, giant bamboo. Greater bamboo lemurs have molars specialized for bamboo. It is unknown how their metabolism processes the cyanide found in bamboo shoots; the amount consumed in one day would be enough to kill a human. Feeding habits of greater bamboo lemurs vary with the season. Between July and November these lemurs consume the pith of the giant bamboo. They have powerful jaws which are used to tear apart the wooden bamboo poles and obtain the soft pith inside. In December when the new bamboo starts appearing, this species switches to bamboo shoots. The other 2 % of its diet consists of flowers, leaves, soils, and fruits. The greater bamboo lemur also eats mature leaves that the other bamboo lemur species will not.

Plant Foods: leaves; fruit; flowers

Other Foods: detritus

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Greater bamboo lemurs may act as seed dispersers for bamboo and other plants. They are also prey to fossa. Very little research, however, has been conducted regarding how this species impacts the local ecosystem.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Predation

The only confirmed predator of the greater bamboo lemurs are fossa, although certain raptors are also suspected to prey on lemurs. Human hunters also have been known to target lemurs, including this species.

Known Predators:

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Greater bamboo lemurs have two calls used for communication: the contact call and the alarm call. The contact call is a powerful yelping sound that acts as a group-cohesion signal. Its intensity rises and falls rapidly with the progression of the call. The alarm call is sounded when individual lemurs are disturbed or frightened by other animals in the forest. It begins as a low-pitched roar that decreases in intensity the longer the call lasts. The alarm call has 2 parts, which sound something like "ouik-grrraaa," that are emitted in rapid sequences.

Communication Channels: acoustic

Perception Channels: visual

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

The lifespan of greater bamboo lemurs is currently unknown.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 17.6 years (captivity)
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Reproduction

Greater bamboo lemurs are polygynous, but little other information is available regarding the mating systems of this species.

Mating System: polygynous

Greater bamboo lemurs mate between May and June, and they give birth during the transitional dry and wet seasons in November. The average gestation period is 142 to 149 days. Each female gives birth to only 1 young. The young are weaned after about 8 months, and male offspring disperse from their natal social group between 3 and 4 years of age.

Breeding season: Greater bamboo lemurs mate between May and June.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Range gestation period: 142 to 149 days.

Average weaning age: 8 months.

Range time to independence: 3 to 4 years.

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); viviparous

Mother greater bamboo lemurs take care of their young and remain with them until they are about 5 weeks old. Between 7 and 8 weeks of age, the infant nurses less and begins to explore areas farther away from its mother.

Parental Investment: female parental care ; pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • 2009. "BBC, Nature & Science" (On-line). Greater bamboo lemur, broad-nosed gentle lemur. Accessed February 12, 2009 at http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/336.shtml.
  • 2007. "The Primata" (On-line). Broad-nosed Gentle Lemur (Hapalemur simus). Accessed March 12, 2009 at http://www.theprimata.com/hapalemur_simus.html.
  • Andrainarivo, C., V. Andriaholinirina, A. Feistner, T. Felix, J. Ganzhorn, N. Garbutt, C. Golden, B. Konstant, J. Louis, D. Meyers, R. Mittermeier, A. Perieras, F. Princee, J. Rabarivola, B. Rakotosamimanana, H. Rasamimanana, J. Ratsimbazafy, G. Raveloarinoro, A. Razafimanantsoa, Y. Rumpler, C. Schwitzer, U. Thalmann, L. Wilmé, P. Wright. 2008. "The 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Prolemur simus. Accessed March 12, 2009 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/9674.
  • Massicot, P. 1999. "Animal Info" (On-line). Animal Info - Greater Bamboo Lemur. Accessed February 12, 2009 at http://www.animalinfo.org/species/primate/hapasimu.htm.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
CR
Critically Endangered

Red List Criteria
C1+2a(i)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Andrainarivo, C., Andriaholinirina, V.N., Feistner, A., Felix, T., Ganzhorn, J., Garbutt, N., Golden, C., Konstant, B., Louis Jr., E., Meyers, D., Mittermeier, R.A., Perieras, A., Princee, F., Rabarivola, J.C., Rakotosamimanana, B., Rasamimanana, H., Ratsimbazafy, J., Raveloarinoro, G., Razafimanantsoa, A., Rumpler, Y., Schwitzer, C., Thalmann, U., Wilmé, L. & Wright, P.

Reviewer/s
Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Critically Endangered as the species is estimated to number less than 250 mature individuals with a continuing decline of at least 25% over the next 9 years (one generation). The number of mature individuals in any subpopulation is thought not to exceed 50 mature animals.

History
  • 2000
    Critically Endangered
  • 1996
    Critically Endangered
  • 1994
    Endangered
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Endangered
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1990
    Endangered
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Endangered
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Endangered
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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Currently, greater bamboo lemurs have the smallest population size of any other lemur species in Madagascar. In 20 years of regional surveys, only 12 groups of greater bamboo lemurs totaling less than 100 individuals have been documented. In Ranomafana National Park during a 400 day census only 3 groups were found totaling 20 individuals. Their habitat is threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal logging, and the extensive cutting down of bamboo. In some areas greater bamboo lemurs are being hunted with slingshots and snares. The IUCN lists this species are critically endangered.

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: appendix i

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: critically endangered

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Status

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR A2cd) on the IUCN Red List 2002 (1), and listed on Appendix I of CITES (4).
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Population

Population
On current evidence, this species may have the smallest population size of any lemur on the island. Only about 12 groups, totaling less than 100 individuals, have been documented in over 20 years of regional surveys. During 400 days of census work in Ranomafana, only three groups in total have been detected (with a maximum of 20 individuals confirmed) (Wright et al. 2008).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The greater bamboo lemur is threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal logging, the cutting of bamboo and hunting with slingshots and snares, the latter exacerbated by their movements into the rice paddies.
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The rainforests of Madagascar are being widely cleared by slash-and-burn techniques and this habitat destruction is one of the major threats to the survival of the greater bamboo lemur (3). Bamboo is also being cleared in some areas, and this lemur is targeted by hunters in other regions (3). The known range of the greater bamboo lemur is highly restricted and this implies further threats to survival (3).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES. Remnant populations now receive protection in Ranomafana National Park and Andringitra National Park. Torotorofotsy is a RAMSAR wetland site. Surveys in unstudied classified forests and forest reserves in eastern Madagascar may eventually turn up new populations, but in the meantime continued monitoring of existing populations is required.

Wright et al. (2008) propose several immediate research and conservation recommendations. Further study of dietary breadth in populations other than Ranomafana is crucial to developing an understanding of this species? ecological flexibility, and eventually understanding its patchy distribution.

Only 39 P. simus individuals have been kept in captivity. As of 2007, there were 22 in seven institutions (five in Europe and two in Madagascar) (Wright et al. 2008).
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Conservation

The greater bamboo lemur is protected within two areas in Madagascar, however, even within Ranomafana National Park the native trees are being exploited and this species is at risk (3). Further research into these little-known lemurs is urgently needed and more extensive surveys of the area may well reveal further isolated populations in need of protection (3).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Prolemur simus on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Because the the greater bamboo lemur is endemic to Madagascar and endangered, they may play a role in the tourism economy of Madagascar.

Positive Impacts: ecotourism

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Wikipedia

Greater bamboo lemur

The greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus), also known as the broad-nosed bamboo lemur and the broad-nosed gentle lemur, is the largest bamboo lemur, at over five pounds or nearly 2.5 kilograms. It has greyish brown fur and white ear tufts, and has a head-body length of around one and a half feet, or forty to fifty centimeters. It feeds almost exclusively on the bamboo species of Cathariostachys madagascariensis, preferring the shoots but also eating the pith and leaves. It is unknown how their metabolism deals with the cyanide found in the shoots. The typical daily dose would be enough to kill humans. Greater bamboo lemurs occasionally consume fungi, flowers, and fruit. Its only confirmed predator is the fossa, but raptors are also suspected. Its current range is restricted to southeastern Madagascar, although fossils indicate its former range extended across bigger areas of the island, including as far north as Ankarana.[3][4] Some notable parts of the current range are the Ranomafana[5] and Andringitra National Parks.[citation needed]

Greater bamboo lemurs live in groups of up to 28. Individuals are extremely gregarious. The species may be the only lemur in which the male is dominant, although this is not certain. Because of their social nature, greater bamboo lemurs have at least seven different calls. Males have been observed taking bamboo pith away from females that had put significant effort into opening the bamboo stems. In captivity, greater bamboo lemurs have lived over the age of 17.[6]

Conservation status[edit]

The greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus), is one of the world's most critically endangered primates, according to the IUCN Red List. Scientists believed that it was extinct, but a remnant population was discovered in 1986.[7] Since then, surveys of south- and central eastern Madagascar have found about 500 individuals in 11 subpopulations.[2] The home range of the species is likewise drastically reduced. The current range is less than 4 percent of its historic distribution. Most of the former range is no longer suitable habitat due to this species' dietary specialization on bamboo and its microhabitat preferences. The outlook is dire since areas with critically low population numbers have no official protection, and comprise severely degraded habitat.[citation needed] The species is endangered by the following: slash and burn farming, mining, bamboo and other logging, and slingshot hunting.[6]

It has been named one of "The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates."[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 117. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  2. ^ a b 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. (2014). "Prolemur simus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2014-06-16. 
  3. ^ Godfrey, L.R.; Wilson, Jane M.; Simons, E.L.; Stewart, Paul D.; Vuillaume-Randriamanantena, M. (1996). "Ankarana: window to Madagascar's past". Lemur News 2: 16–17. 
  4. ^ Wilson, Jane M.; Godfrey, L.R.; Simons, E.L.; Stewart, Paul D.; Vuillaume-Randriamanantena, M. (1995). "Past and Present Lemur Fauna at Ankarana, N. Madagascar". Primate Conservation 16: 47–52. 
  5. ^ Wilson, Jane (1995). Lemurs of the Lost World: exploring the forests and Crocodile Caves of Madagascar. Impact, London. pp. 139–143. ISBN 978-1-874687-48-1. 
  6. ^ a b Conniff, Richard (April 2006). "For the Love of Lemurs". Smithsonian (Smithsonian Institution) 37 (1): 102–109. 
  7. ^ Pat Wright (July 2008). "A Proposal from Greater Bamboo Lemur Conservation Project". SavingSpecies. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  8. ^ Mittermeier, R.A.; Wallis, J.; Rylands, A.B.; Ganzhorn, J.U.; Oates, J.F.; Williamson, E.A.; Palacios, E.; Heymann, E.W.; Kierulff, M.C.M.; Yongcheng, L.; Supriatna, J.; Roos, C.; Walker, S.; Cortés-Ortiz, L.; Schwitzer, C., eds. (2009). Primates in Peril: The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates 2008–2010 (PDF). Illustrated by S.D. Nash. Arlington, VA: IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group (PSG), International Primatological Society (IPS), and Conservation International (CI). pp. 1–92. ISBN 978-1-934151-34-1. 
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