Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 73 – The Northern Sportive Lemur


Northern sportive lemur

“If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man.  All things are connected”
Chief Seattle

Not another endangered lemur you may cry, but, this one is very special.  Incredibly, there are only eighteen left on the planet and none known to be kept in captivity.  Also known as the Sahafary sportive lemur, this gorgeous little primate is really struggling to survive.  Like most wildlife species on the island of Madagascar, northern sporting lemurs cannot be found anywhere else in the world.  Many species are expected to go extinct within the next decade, and the chances are, the northern sportive lemur will be the first to go.  And, to boot, the first for two hundred years.  Currently, it has very little habitat left and even less chance of survival.  It is very doubtful that anything will change in time to save these endearing little primates.Sportive lemur 4 - Photo Credit Coke Smith

Madagascar, beautiful and as richly-biodiverse as it is, is also an island far too familiar with political unrest, poverty and lack of education.  The state of this species is a prime example of the result of the combination of these factors.  Twenty-one million people live on the island and over eighty-five per cent of its forests have disappeared.   It is estimated that all of the unprotected forest will be gone on the island by year 2025. None of it really makes sense.  The country is extremely rich in mineral deposits,  has petroleum and a vast array of wonderful wildlife which should bring in huge revenues from tourists.  Unfortunately, this is not what is happening.

This tiny, round-eyed resident of Madagascar measures no more than eight inches in length and weighs a mere two pounds.  It has greyish-brown fur with a dark line along its back.  Both eyes face forward for optimum vision.

The northern sportive lemur leaps from tree to tree, and can jump vertically up tree trunks using padded hands and feet to cling on with.  The species also has a curious habit of adopting a vertical stance, rather like a boxer, when feeling threatened.  It is from this stance the name ‘sportive’ is derived.

Sportive lemur 5Northern sportive lemurs are nocturnal.  During the day, they sleep in holes in trees, usually up to eight meters above ground level.

The breeding season begins in April and continues through to June.  After a gestation period of up to one hundred and fifty days, usually between September and December, a single infant will be born.  Young are nursed in the tree hollows until they are about about four months old.  They continue to stay with the mother until they are about one year old.

Habitat
Dry deciduous forest and evergreen forest.
Where
Madagascar
What they eat
Mainly folivorous
Threats
The major threat is habit loss and degredation form slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal logging and charcoal burning.The Northern Sportive Lemur is a niche species.  Natural predators include Sanzinia madagascariensis, the Malagasy tree boa, which sneaks up on them in the day, whilst they sleep, and snatches them from their holes.
Status: Critically Endangered
The northern sportive lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis) is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Critically Endangered.  This species is also under the protection of CITES Appendix I. Only nineteen are thought to be extant in the wild, with no known animals kept in captivity. Despite conservation efforts, with so few left and none within captive breeding programs, the future of the northern sportive lemur, very sadly, does not look at all promising.

Related links
Dead Primate Walking
Lemurs Most Threatened Mammals on the Planet 
Lemurs Named World’s Most Endangered Mammals

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20 thoughts on “Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 73 – The Northern Sportive Lemur

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