Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Relatively little is known about the behaviour of these animals. Together with other sportive lemurs, they are believed to be 'caecotrophic', meaning they eat their faeces, digesting their food for a second time (5) (6). The reason for this behaviour is thought to be due to the low energy value of their food – chiefly leaves – which has to be fermented within their gut in order to allow bacteria to break down the cellulose and release the sugars and starches within the leaves. Rabbits also employ this process (7). As no mammal can digest cellulose on its own, it has to rely on bacteria to do this. Many other plant-eating mammals have evolved a system to extract as much nutrition as possible from their poor diets. The best-known examples are cows and sheep, which regurgitate food for a second chew (7). Northern sportive lemurs give birth to a single youngster and they live together, with the mother leaving the baby on a branch whilst she feeds (5). Males are solitary and their territories sometimes overlap those of a number of females. The males will visit each female in the vicinity during the animals' breeding season, but if he encounters another male within his territory he will defend it vigorously. They also call to indicate their presence within an area of forest (5). These animals spend the daylight hours sleeping in holes in trees up to eight metres from the ground, although they have also been recorded as low as one metre. They have been reported as falling prey to Sanzinia madagascariensis, one of the three species of native boa, which takes lemurs from their sleeping holes (2).
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Description

The name 'sportive' came about owing to this species' interesting habit of adopting a boxer-like stance when threatened (1). Northern sportive lemurs are one of the smallest of the Lepilemurs and have pale grey-brown backs with a darker line that runs from the head down to the tail. There is some brown around the top of the head and around their shoulders, and their undersides are grey (2). With both eyes facing forwards they have excellent binocular vision (5). They are arboreal and nocturnal and move from tree to tree by leaping. They adopt a vertical posture, clinging to the tree with pads on their hands and feet (5). They then leap in this upright position (6).
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Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs in Madagascar?s far northern regions, north of the Irodo River, where it is now believed restricted to the small remaining patches of forest near the villages of Madirobe and Ankarongana in the Sahafary region, and in the immediate vicinity of Andrahona, a small mountain emerging out of the surrounding lowlands about 30 km south of Antsiranana (Mittermeier et al. 2008). Below 300 m.
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Geographic Range

Like all sportive lemurs, Lepilemur septentrionalis is found on the island of Madagascar. Northern sportive lemurs are confined to the northern tip of Madagascar from the left bank of the Loky river to the coast.

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

  • 2003. Lemurs. Pp. 83 in M Hutchins, D Kleiman, V Geist, M McDade, eds. Grizmek's Animal Life Encylopedia, Vol. 12: Mammals I, 2nd Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
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Range

This species is restricted to the very northern-most parts of Madagascar, from the Montagne d'Ambre southwards to the Mahavay River and east to Vohemar (2).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Northern sportive lemurs are among the smallest members of the genus Lepilemur. They grow to around 53 cm, with a head and body length averaging 28 cm and tail length averaging 25 cm. The average weight of northern sportive lemurs is 0.7 to 0.8 kg. Their coloration is grey-brown and is darkest at the crown. There is a dark grey stripe that begins at the crown and runs down the dorsal line. The underside is grey. Northern sportive lemurs have enlarged, fleshy pads on their hands and feet that improve their grasp on tree branches, making them agile in the trees. They have binocular vision and large eyes. They have a large caecum to accomodate their folivorous diet. The ears are much less prominent in L. septentrionalis than in other members of the genus Lepilemur.

Average mass: 0.7 kg.

Average length: 28 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
An inhabitant of dry deciduous forest.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Northern sportive lemurs live in dry, deciduous forests and more humid evergreen forests. They spend most of the day sleeping in tree holes or dense bundles of vines. Most sleep sites are 6 to 8 m above ground, but some have been found as low as 1 m.

Average elevation: 800 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

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Northern sportive lemurs live in both dry deciduous forests and the wetter evergreen forests (2).
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Northern sportive lemurs mainly feed on leaves, along with some flowers and fruit. They are cecotrophic, meaning they re-digest their own feces to break down the cellulose from the leaves even more. They do this because of the low energy value of leaves as a food source.

Plant Foods: leaves; fruit; flowers

Other Foods: dung

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Northern sportive lemurs serve as prey to Sanzinia madagascariensis, a native boa species. Therefore, they have some effect on the local food webs. Also, because they are nocturnal folivores, they have an impact on the trees in the area.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Predation

Northern sportive lemurs are preyed upon by Sanzinia madagascariensis, a boa species native to Madagascar, which takes the lemurs from their holes during the daytime, while they sleep. Also, members of the genus Lepilemur are sometimes hunted for food by humans, so it is likely that L. septentrionalis is hunted for food. Large birds of prey are also likely to prey on northern sportive lemurs.

Northern sportive lemurs are agile and wary, and try to avoid many predators by being inactive during the day and staying in the trees.

Known Predators:

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Northern sportive lemurs communicate through vocal communication or calls. There are two primary calls, a loud call and a contact rejection call.

The loud call is a crow-like call used to indicate their presence and territorial claims.

The contact rejection call is a series of resonant hisses trailed by a two phase vocalization. This is heard when two individuals are close to each other in the wild. It also occurs in captivity if an individual is approached by a conspecific.

Also, many members of the genus Lepilemur engage in latrine behavior to scent mark their territorial boundaries. Therefore, it is likely that L. septentrionalis employs scent marking as a form of chemical communication.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

  • Irwin, M., K. Samonds, J. Raharison, P. Wright. 2004. Lemur Latrines: Observations of Latrine Behavior in Wild Primates and Possible Ecological Significance. Journal of Mammalogy, 85/3: 420-427.
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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

The lifespan of L. septentrionalis has not been specifically studied. However, members of the genus Lepilemur have lived as long as 15 years in captivity and have an average lifespan of about 8 years . It is likely that L. septentrionalis has a similar potential lifespan.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
15 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
8 years.

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Reproduction

Male northern sportive lemurs are solitary and have territories that overlap those of one or more females. Males are polygynous and will visit each female in their territory during the mating season.

Mating System: polygynous

Within Lepilemur birthing happens between September and December, after a gestational period of 120 to 150 days. The young are weaned at four months, but can remain with the mother for up to a year, and they typically reach sexual maturity at around 18 months. Although there is little specific information on northern sportive lemurs, it is likely that reproduction is similar to other Lepilemur species.

Breeding interval: Lepilemur septentrionalis breeds once per year.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from April to August.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Range gestation period: 120 to 150 days.

Average weaning age: 4 months.

Average time to independence: 1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 18 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 18 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous

Females give birth to one offspring each year. Offspring are raised entirely by the mother. The mother lives with and cares for the offspring by providing food and protection, but will leave the offspring on a branch when going to forage for food.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); post-independence association with parents

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
CR
Critically Endangered

Red List Criteria
C2a(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 total population probably only numbers a few hundred individuals, is fragmented such that no subpopulation is likely to number much more than 50 mature individuals, and there is continuing decline due to ongoing habitat loss combined with impacts of hunting.

History
  • 2000
    Vulnerable
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
  • 1994
    Vulnerable
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1990
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU A2cd) on the IUCN Red List 2003 (3). Listed on Appendix I of CITES (4).
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Population

Population
Unknown, but the population is unlikely to number more than a few hundred individuals.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The major threat is forest loss due to charcoal production and hunting (particularly by charcoal burners).
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Like much of the native fauna of Madagascar, northern sportive lemurs are at risk from loss of their habitats (2). Much of this habitat destruction is caused by extensive 'slash and burn' techniques as forests are destroyed to provide more agricultural land for an increasing population (8). The animals are also hunted for food in spite of being officially protected (2).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES. This species exists only as small populations in the Sahafary region and is not in any protected areas. The Andrahona Forest, a small mountain rising out of the lowlands, is apparently a sacred forest, but it is tiny and showing signs of incursions. Additional survey work further north may reveal the presence of the species in other remaining forest patches.
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Conservation

The population of northern sportive lemurs is believed to be between 10,000 and 100,000 animals, with as many as 564 individuals per square kilometre in some areas. It has been recorded in four protected areas in the north of Madagascar (2).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known negative effects of northern sportive lemurs on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Northern sportive lemurs are sometimes hunted for food. The endemic lemur radiation in Madagascar is a rich natural heritage, with both research and ecotourism value.

Positive Impacts: food ; ecotourism ; research and education

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Wikipedia

Northern sportive lemur

The northern sportive lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis), also known as the Sahafary sportive lemur or northern weasel lemur, is a species of lemur in the family Lepilemuridae. It is endemic to Madagascar. As a result of severe ecological and human pressures, the lemur is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) by the IUCN Red List,[2] and is one of the world's most endangered primate species.[3]

Physical description[edit]

L. septentrionalis is a sportive lemur, so named due to the boxing-like stance assumed by the lemur when threatened.[4] Northern sportive lemurs grow to a height of around 53 cm. They have a head and body length and tail length averaging at 28 cm and 25 cm respectively, and weigh an average of 0.7 to 0.8 kg.[5] Their diminutive size makes them one of the smallest species in the Lepilemur genus. Their ears are also relatively less prominent than in the other Lepilemur species. They have a grey underside and their fur coat is a grey-brown colour, which is darkest at the crown and moves down the dorsal line in a dark grey stripe, ending in the rump and the hind limbs as a paler grey.[5] The lemurs often adopt an upright vertical posture, using enlarged and fleshy digital pads on their hands and feet to cling tightly to tree branches. The lemurs can leap from this vertical position, making them an agile arboreal species.[6] Their forward-facing large eyes give the lemurs binocular vision.[5]

Range[edit]

The northern sportive lemur inhabits a highly restricted range in Northern Madagascar. The species is located from the left bank of the Loky River to the coast.[7] The natural habitat of the species consists of small patches of deciduous forests north of the Irodo River,[8] near the villages of Madirobe and Ankarongana in the Sahafary region and in the immediate vicinity of Andrahona, which is a small mountain that arises out lowlands south of Antsiranana.[9]

Diet[edit]

The northern sportive lemur is a foliovorous species, though they will also eat fruits and flowers to supplement their diet. Similarly to the other sportive lemurs, L. septentrionalis is caecotrophic, consuming its own faeces to digest food for a second time.[7] The species have large bacteria-filled ceca, which helps them to digest plant matter such as cellulose and break it down into sugars and starches.

Behaviour and reproduction[edit]

The northern sportive lemur is nocturnal, foraging for food at night and sleeping in the day. The lemurs sleep in holes or dense foliage in trees ranging from 1 to 8 metres. Females will leave their young on a branch when foraging for food. Males are solitary and territorial, and their territories often overlap with many female home ranges. Male lemurs will aggressively defend their territories in the mating season. The male is generally thought to be loosely polygynous,[6] but it has been suggested that males can be monogamous.[10] L. septentrionalis individuals communicate through chemical communication in the form of latrine behaviour to mark territory, as well as vocal communication (calls). There are two main calls: a loud crow-like call and a contact rejection call. The loud call is used by the lemurs to reveal their presence and territorial claims to other individuals.[6] The contact rejection call is a series of resonant hisses followed by a two-phase vocalisation, most commonly heard when two individuals approach each other in the wild. The contact rejection call is also heard when conspecifics come into contact with each other in captivity, at which point they may also strike each other with their hands.[11]

Breeding intervalBreeding seasonAverage number of offspringRange gestation periodAverage weaning ageAverage time to independenceAverage age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Once per yearApril to August1120 to 150 days4 months1 year18 months18 months

Species classification[edit]

The Lepilemur genus was initially thought to comprise only 2 species: L. mustelinus and L. ruficaudatus, with the latter subdivided into 2 subspecies.[12] The genus was later reclassified as having only 1 species, mustelinus, with 5 subspecies.[13] In 1977, Petter et al. increased the species number of the genus to 7, at which point the species L. septentrionalis was demarcated, and classified as having 4 subspecies.[14] As 2 of these subspecies were not geographically distinct, the number of L. septentrionalis subspecies was eventually condensed to 2: L. s. septentrionalis and L. s. ankaranensis.[15] As a result of subsequent cytogenetic and molecular analyses, the 7 species of Lepilemur were confirmed by Rumpler et al., but the L. s. ankarensis subspecies was elevated to the status of full species, resulting in 8 species of lemur classified within the genus.[16] A further three molecular genetic studies have led to the inclusion of another 15 species of Lepilemur, making it the most diverse lemur genus at 23 species.[17][18] In 2004, a study of the evolutionary relationships of various subpopulations of the northern sportive lemur was carried out, in which sequence analyses of the mitochondrial DNA of a large number of L. septentrionalis individuals from the different subpopulations were performed. A significant number of fixed differences present in the lemurs in the Sahafary region distinguished them from the lemurs in other regions, suggesting that the northern sportive lemur in fact exists as two separate cryptic species, most likely caused by chromosomal rearrangements in one of the L. septentrionalis evolutionary lineages.[19]

Threats and conservation[edit]

The northern sportive lemur is predated on by a boa species native to Madagascar, Sanzinia madagascariensis, which hunts the lemurs while they are sleeping in tree holes. Large birds of prey, Falconiformes and Strigiformes, are also natural predators of the lemurs. Along with these ecological threats, the arboreal lemur species are also highly threatened by human charcoal production, which still continues to remove the only remaining forest habitat of the lemurs, greatly restricting their range. L. septentrionalis is also illegally hunted as bushmeat.[4] This combination of threats has severely reduced the population of the lemurs to only a few hundred individuals, as estimated by the IUCN Red List.[2] They are classified as Critically Endangered under the IUCN Red List and are listed on CITES Appendix I, which only permits their trade in exceptional circumstances.[20] The known habitat range of the lemurs does not overlap with any protected areas, and although the Andrahona Forest is considered sacred in Madagascar, it shows signs of human incursion.[2]

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. 118. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  2. ^ a b c d 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). "Lepilemur septentrionalis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2014-06-17. 
  3. ^ Nash, ed. by Russell A. Mittermeier, ... [et al.] ; illustrations by Stephen D. (2009). Primates in peril : the world's 25 most endangered primates 2008-2010. Arlington, VA: IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group, International Primatological Society, Conservation International. ISBN 978-1-934151-34-1. 
  4. ^ a b Garbutt, Nick (2007). Mammals of Madagascar : a complete guide ([Rev.] ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300125504. 
  5. ^ a b c Tattersall, Ian (1982). The primates of Madagascar. New York: Columbia Univ. Pr. ISBN 0231047045. 
  6. ^ a b c Fleagle, John G. (2013). Primate adaptation and evolution (3rd ed. ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press. ISBN 978-0123786326. 
  7. ^ a b Ratsirarson, J. (1987). Contribution a l’etude comparative de l’eco-ethologie de Lemur catta dans deux habitats differents de la Reserve Speciale de Beza-Mahafaly. Universite de Madagascar. 
  8. ^ Thornback, compiled by [for] the World Conservation Monitoring Centre by Caroline Harcourt with assistance from Jane (1990). Lemurs of Madagascar and the Comoros. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. ISBN 2880329574. 
  9. ^ Mittermeier, Russell A.; Ganzhorn, Jörg U.; Konstant, William R.; Glander, Kenneth; Tattersall, Ian; Groves, Colin P.; Rylands, Anthony B.; Hapke, Andreas; Ratsimbazafy, Jonah; Mayor, Mireya I.; Louis, Edward E.; Rumpler, Yves; Schwitzer, Christoph; Rasoloarison, Rodin M. (4 December 2008). "Lemur Diversity in Madagascar". International Journal of Primatology 29 (6): 1607–1656. doi:10.1007/s10764-008-9317-y. 
  10. ^ Jolly, Alison (1998). "Pair-Bonding, Female Aggression and the Evolution of Lemur Societies". Folia Primatologica 69 (Suppl. 1): 1–13. doi:10.1159/000052693. 
  11. ^ Martin, edited by G.A. Doyle, R.D. (1979). The Study of prosimian behavior. New York: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0122221507. 
  12. ^ Schwarz, Ernst (21 August 2009). "20. A Revision of the Genera and Species of Madagascar Lemuridae". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 101 (2): 399–428. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.1931.tb01020.x. 
  13. ^ Petter, J. J.; Petter-Rousseaux, A. (1960). "Remarques Sur La Systématique du Genre Lepilemur". Mammalia 24 (1). doi:10.1515/mamm.1960.24.1.76. 
  14. ^ Petter, Jean-Jacques et al. (1992). Le Génie animal. Paris: Nathan. ISBN 2-09-241042-3. 
  15. ^ Groves, Colin (2001). Primate taxonomy. Washington [u.a.]: Smithsonian Inst. Press. ISBN 978-1560988724. 
  16. ^ Rumpler, Yves; Prosper, ; Hauwy, Marcel; Rabarivola, Clément; Rakotoarisoa, Gilbert; Dutrillaux, Bernard (2002). Chromosome Research 10 (2): 145–153. doi:10.1023/A:1014953202718. 
  17. ^ Louis Jr, Edward E et al. (2006). Molecular and morphological analyses of the sportive lemurs (Family Megaladapidae: Genus Lepilemur) reveals 11 previously unrecognized species. Lubbock, TX: Museum of Texas Tech University. ISBN 1-929330-10-3. 
  18. ^ Rabarivola, C.; Zaramody, A., Fausser, J.-L., Andriaholinirina, N., Roos, C., Zinner, D., et al. (2006). "Cytogenetic and molecular characteristics of a new species of sportive lemur from northern Madagascar". Lemur News 11: 45–49. 
  19. ^ Ravaoarimanana, IB; Tiedemann, R; Montagnon, D; Rumpler, Y (May 2004). "Molecular and cytogenetic evidence for cryptic speciation within a rare endemic Malagasy lemur, the Northern Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis).". Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 31 (2): 440–8. PMID 15062786. 
  20. ^ "Appendices I, II and III". CITES. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
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