Endangered Lemurs, Lorises and Tarsiers

There are a total of 128 species of lemurs, lorises, tarsiers and their relatives in the world.

Of these, 49 species, amounting to 38 percent are threatened with extinction.

The seven species, in the list below, are classified as critically endangered because of their low numbers, steep population decline or restricted range. The population numbers of these most endangered lemurs and galago continue to drop.

  • Rondo Dwarf Galago (Galagoides rondoensis)
  • Lake Alaotra Gentle Lemur (Hapalemur alaotrensis)
  • Sahafary Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis)
  • Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus)
  • Silky Sifaka (Propithecus candidus)
  • Perrier’s Sifaka (Propithecus perrieri)
  • Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata)

Endangered Lemurs in Madagascar

Most of the world's lemurs live in Madagascar. The island country has 92 lemur species, including all but one on the above list, the Rondo Dwarf Galago.

While 37 of Madagascar's lemurs are threatened, that number doesn't give the entire picture of the health of these species. For 42 species of Madagascar's lemurs, biologists don't have enough information about how many there are, whether numbers are decreasing, and the habitat they need to survive. So those 42 species have not been assessed as to whether or not they are endangered.

That means three-quarters of the lemurs studied so far in Madagascar are threatened, and 14 percent are critically endangered.

Other Endangered Lemurs, Lorises and Tarsiers

Besides those in Madagascar, Africa has another 21 species and Asia has 15 species of lemurs, lorises, tarsiers and their relatives. Tanzania has Africa's only other endangered species, the Rondo Dwarf Galago. In Asia, 11 species are threatened, though none are endangered critically.

The list below describes some of the endangered lemurs, lorises, tarsiers in the world.

Greater Bamboo Lemur © CI, Haroldo Castro

Greater Bamboo Lemur

Prolemur simus

Madagascar — Although they once roamed throughout Madagascar, greater bamboo lemurs are now gone from most of the country. They're currently limited to scattered patches of rainforest in southeastern Madagascar. Forest clearing and hunting have left only a few small populations of the lemur.

White-collared Lemur © CI, Russell A. Mettermeier

White-collared Lemur

Eulemur albocollaris

Madagascar — About 5,000 to 9,500 white-collared lemurs remain. The rainforest fragments in southeastern Madagascar that they're confined to are being logged and turned into farms. Like other critically endangered lemurs in Madagascar, they're also hunted.

Silky Sifaka © CI, Russell A. Mettermeier

Silky Sifaka

Propithecus candidus

Madagascar — Somewhere between a few hundred and a few thousand silky sifaka remain. They live in forest patches covering a small portion of northeastern Madagascar. Even in protected areas these forests continue to be cut. An even greater threat to the continued existence of these lemurs than habitat loss is hunting.

Sahamalaza Peninsula Sportive Lemur © CI, Stephen Nash

Sahamalaza Peninsula Sportive Lemur

Lepilemur sahamalazensis

Madagascar — Likely a few thousand of these sportive lemurs are left. They cling to the few fragments of semi-humid forests remaining in northwestern Madagascar. With logging and clearing, those forests are rapidly shrinking. The lemurs are also especially easy prey for hunters.

Rondo Dwarf Galago © CI, Stephen Nash

Rondo Dwarf Galago

Galagoides rondoensis

Tanzania — While no population tallies exist of the rondo dwarf galago or busy baby, its coastal forests have been reduced to scattered shreds. This tiniest of galagos is now limited to about 90 square kilometres of forest in two locations separated by 400 kilometres.

Siau Island Tarsier © CI, Stephen Nash

Siau Island Tarsier

Tarsius sp.

Indonesia — Siau Island tarsier is a species that's so recently been recognized, as of 2007 it had yet to receive a scientific name. It's native to a single small tropical island. This little relative of lemurs is now gone from many sites that it inhabited only a decade ago. A 2005 survey found the tarsiers at only two locations. They've been gobbled up by islanders who would snack on five or ten at a time.

Horton Plains Slender Loris © CI, Stephen Nash

Horton Plains Slender Loris

Loris tardigradus nycticeboides

Sri Lanka — This furry primate is native to Sri Lanka's cool highlands where it was already rare in the 1920s. Searches in recent years each encountered only one or two slender lorises. More may be hiding in a couple of unsurveyed forests.

References

IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2.

Russell A. Mittermeier, Jonah Ratsimbazafy, Anthony B. Rylands, Liz Williamson, John F. Oates, David Mbora, Jörg U. Ganzhorn, Ernesto Rodríguez-Luna, Erwin Palacios, Eckhard W. Heymann, M. Cecília M. Kierulff, Long Yongcheng, Jatna Supriatna, Christian Roos, Sally Walker and John M. Aguiar. 2007. Primates in Peril: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates, 2006 – 2008. Primate Conservation. (22): 1-40.

Photos and drawings of lemurs, lorises and tarsiers © Conservation International

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