Lemurs of Madagascar
- Sifaka lemur or the dancer lemur or the jumping lemur -

Lemurs of Madagascar, the Sifaka lemur, Ravo.Madagascar pictures



Sifaka lemur, or Propithecus species ( revised on February 2012 ),

Is from Family Indridae, genus Propithecus.
This family contains 14 species arranged between three genera. Two genera : Indri and Propithecus are diurnal and Avahi is smaller and nocturnal.

Sifaka lemur moves on its side when it moves on the ground, it is the reason of its appellation : « Dancer Lemur ». So it is the most splendid to observe. When Sifaka lemur is on tree, it moves with bounding leaps between vertical trunks and branches, it is the reason of its appellation : « Jumping Lemur », so Sifaka lemur can leap 10 meters from tree to tree using just their hind legs.



Sifaka lemurs inhabits

Both dry deciduous forests, xerophytic spiny forests, gallery forests, semi-evergreen forests and primary and slightly degraded rainforests. One of the most indicated spot for its observation is Andohahela National Park ( Fort Dauphin at the deep south part of Madagascar ) or Mantadia National Park or Ranomafana National Park ( eastern Madagascar rainforests ).

Strictly diurnal, Sifaka lemur ( called « Simpona » in rainforest regions ) eats chiefly leaves & fruits ( tamarinds, mangos … ) but also seeds and flowers, sometimes bark in dry season, and it passes 40 % of its times to eat in the trees ( so they are arboreal ). Sifaka lemur does not need to drink because it obtains all water which it needs in its food.


Lemurs of Madagascar, the Sifaka lemur, Ravo.Madagascar pictures
a western Sifaka species : the Decken's Sifaka and
its photographer Ravo in the Tsingy of Bemaraha©


The western and southern Sifaka lemurs are ( the most common at first ) :

  • Propithecus verreauxi - Verreaux's Sifaka ( overall white with very dark grey to black face )
  • Propithecus deckeni - Decken's Sifaka ( creamy-white all over with face entirely black )
  • Propithecus coquereli - Coquerel's Sifaka (mostly white-inner face black surrounded by white)
  • Propithecus coronatus - Crowned Sifaka ( creamy-white all over with face mainly dark grey )


The eastern and northern Simpona lemurs are ( the most common at first ) :

  • Propithecus diadema - Diademed Sifaka (variation in coloration - head white with black crown)
  • Propithecus edwarsi - Milne-Edwards's Sifaka ( from dark chocolate-brown to black on head )
  • Propithecus candidus - Silky Sifaka ( silky creamy-white with face slate-grey to black )
  • Propithecus tattersalli - Golden-crowned Sifaka ( creamy-white with yellow-orange crown )
  • Propithecus perrieri - Perrier's Sifaka (uniformly black - one of the most endangered primates)


lemurs of Madagascar by Ravo.Madagascar
lemurs of Madagascar by Ravo.Madagascar

Madagascar : the Tsingy, Nosy Be area, Baobab
Here is the Black and white ruffed lemur



Sifaka lemurs live in small groups

Of 2 to 14 individuals ( 4 to 8 is average ), in a territory of 2 to 35ha ( up to 60ha in continuous forest ) following their habitats, a territory is marked by anal odor. Females dominate the group. Such as all Indridae famillies, Sifaka lemur moves by jumps from tree to tree or from trunk to trunk. Babies are born in June or July, after a 160-180 days gestation.

At the beginning, their mothers carry them like a belt around their size ; then after few months, the mother put the baby on its back and the baby becomes independent when it is 6 months years old. Smaller groups ( 6 or less ) represent family units.



Lemurs of Madagascar, the Sifaka lemur, Ravo.Madagascar pictures

Decken's Sifaka and the Tsingy National Park area - Ravo 2014©
Ravo's 2005-2008© pictures - Tsingy of Bemaraha National Park



Predation and Lifespan of the Dancer Lemur - Madagascar :

Infant predation is high, around 30 % are taken by Fosa Cryptoprocta ferox. A captive member of Sifaka lemur is known to have lived more than 23 years in captivity. It is likely that the lifespan in the wild is somewhat shorter than this. But Average lifespan ( in captivity ) is 18 years.




Basal Metabolic Rate of the Dancer Lemur - Madagascar :

For the genus Propithecus, head/body length is 400 to 550 mm. Tail length : 420 to 600 mm. Weights between 4 and 6 kg are common. The pelage is long, soft, and woolly above but less dense and shorter below.

The color of pelage is quite variable including white, creamy-white, black, brown and grey. The face is generally black or very dark grey. The back legs of Sifakas are large and powerful. The feet and hands are quite large. Propithecus is distinguished from Indris by its smaller ears and longer tail.



Reproduction of the Dancer Lemur - Madagascar :

These animals may be capable of breeding annually. The breeding season of Sifaka lemur is from January to March and number of offspring is 1 ( in general ) to 2. The age at sexual or reproductive maturity is 3 years ( average ).

Members of the genus Propithecus are apparently polygynous. During breeding season, males roam between groups, competing for food, females, and tree space. There are often fights with occasional injuries.

Females only breed with the dominant males. The single young hold on to the mother's belly for 3 to 4 weeks and then ride on her back. The young are weaned after 5 to 6 months and are completely independent at 7 months.

Sexual maturity is reached at 3 years of age. As in all primates, Propithecus females provide their offspring with nutrition from milk, grooming, protection, and socialization. Females carry their young for several months. The role of males in parental care has not been described, but may include protecting young through territorial behavior.


Tsingy, Madagascar, Raharimanantsoa Pierrette pictures
In the West part of Madagascar where you can see Sifaka lemurs
Pierrette 2006 ©



Behavior of Sifaka Lemur ( dancer lemur ) - Madagascar :

Sifaka lemurs live in groups of 2 to 14 individuals. The average group size is 6. In the groups there are usually equal numbers of adult males and females with many young. Group members usually stay within sight of each other, and in the non-breeding season they are quite friendly with frequent playing.

Both males and females of Sifaka lemurs mark the territory. Females mark with their genitals, whereas males use special scent glands on their throats. They move around 800 meters per day, covering their home ranges in 10 to 20 days.

During this sweep of the territory, they occasionally encounter other « invading » groups. When two groups come together, the confrontation consists of leaping at each other, growling, and scent marking. No physical contact is involved. Sifaka lemurs are commonly seen sunning, using solar radiation to warm their bodies instead of metabolic heat.



Coquerel's Sifaka in Ankarafantsika National Park, Ravo.Madagascar
Coquerel's Sifaka at Ankarafantsika National Park
Ravo.Madagascar Oct 2014 ©

Madagascar and its endemic fauna and endemic flora, here the dancer lemur or the juping lemur, the Verreaux s Sifaka, one of the Sifaka species
Verreaux's Sifaka at Kirindy western dry forest
Ravo.Madagascar Oct 2019 ©



Communication and Perception of Sifaka Lemur ( dancer lemur ) - Madagascar :

Sifaka lemurs communicate with conspecifics using growls, humming, barks, and howls. These sounds are used to warn of predators in the area and to find separated group members. In addition to these auditory signals, Sifaka lemurs use visual signals such as body postures and facial expressions in their communication. There is too chemical communication, in the form of scent marking.



Food Habits of Sifaka Lemur ( dancer lemur ) - Madagascar :

Sifaka lemurs eat basically all above-ground plant material. They sometimes consume soil, which is thought to help digestion. In the rainy season they eat more fruits and flowers, whereas in the dry season they consume mainly dead wood, bark, and leaves. Sifaka lemurs occasionally roam on the ground to find food.




Ringtailed lemur, Rakotondrazaka Vololomanantsoa pictures

The Ringtailed Lemur - Drawing of Rakotondrazaka Vololomanantsoa


Invitation for a Trip to Madagascar to see Sifaka lemurs and other lemurs,

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Baobabs - Morondava area Madagascar
Ravo's pictures 2012 ©



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