Animal Info - Golden Bamboo Lemur

(Other Names: Bokombolomena, Golden Gentle Lemur, Golden Lemur, Hapalémur Doré, Lemur Cariancho, Varibolomena)

Hapalemur aureus

Status: Critically Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Taxonomy, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size and Weight, Habitat, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Dispersal, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization, Density and Range)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Golden Bamboo Lemur #1 (9 Kb JPEG) (CNN); Golden Bamboo Lemur #2 (25 Kb JPEG) (SUNY - Stony Brook); Golden Bamboo Lemur #3 (Mother with Infant) (21 Kb JPEG) (SUNY - Stony Brook)

The golden bamboo lemur is a rotund lemur, the size of a small house cat, with distinctive golden-brown coloration on its face and underbelly. It is found in primary mid-altitude rainforest associated with bamboo.  The golden bamboo lemur's diet consists mainly of new shoots of giant bamboo. This lemur is mostly crepuscular and sometimes nocturnal. On average, it travels less than 400 m (1300') in a single day. Locomotion is by vertical clinging and leaping, al though a quadrupedal gait is common on horizontal surfaces. The group size is between 2 - 6, with 3 - 4 being the norm. Typically, a group consists of an adult male and female, with slightly smaller subadults and juveniles.

The golden bamboo lemur was first described by Western science in 1987. It is known to occur in a few small patches of rainforest near the south eastern coast of Madagascar, including Ranomafana National Park and Andringitra Nature Reserve. The golden bamboo lemur is threatened by the continued loss of its forest habitat due to slash-and-burn agriculture.


Tidbits

*** The golden bamboo lemur is one of the world's rarest mammals.

*** Astonishingly high levels of cyanide have been found in the shoots of giant bamboo, the main food item of the golden bamboo lemur, as well as in the blood and feces of the lemur itself. The levels of this toxin would kill most other mammals, but it is apparently not a major threat to this lemur. (Mittermeier et al. 1994)

*** The golden bamboo lemur's diet specialization is very unusual in mammals. Only a handful of animals are predominantly dependent on bamboo, including the giant panda, red panda, other bamboo lemurs (grey bamboo lemur (Hapalemur griseus) and greater bamboo lemur (Hapalemur simus)) found in Madagascar, and bamboo rats (including Rhizomys sinensis, R. pruinosus, and R. sumatrensis) found in China and Southeast Asia. (Roberts 1992)


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

  • 1994: Endangered
  • 1996 - 2004: Critically Endangered (Criteria: A2cd) (Population Trend: Decreasing) (IUCN 2004)

Countries Where the Golden Bamboo Lemur Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Madagascar (IUCN 2004).

Taxonomy:

There are three species of bamboo lemur in the genus Hapalemur. They are similar in that they are all approximately the size of a house cat, and the majority of the diet of each bamboo lemur is composed of different parts of the giant bamboo.  Furthermore, groups of the three sympatric species share overlapping home ranges.  Differences between the three species include: 

  • Greater Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur simus) - largest in size, greyish-brown coat, white ear tufts, often found on the ground.  
  • Golden Bamboo Lemur (H. aureus) - medium in size, reddish-brown back with a golden face and underbelly, no ear tufts, rarely found on the ground.
  • Grey Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur griseus) smallest in size, grey body, no ear tufts, rarely found on the ground.
(Tan 1999, Macdonald 2001, Williams 2001)

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

The golden bamboo lemur was first described by Western science in 1987. It is known to occur in a few small patches of rainforest near the southeastern coast of Madagascar, including Ranomafana National Park and Andringitra Nature Reserve.

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

The golden bamboo lemur is threatened by continued loss of its forest habitat due to slash-and-burn agriculture.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size and Weight:

The head and body length of the golden bamboo lemur is about 28 - 45 cm (11 - 18").  The tail is about 24-40 cm (9-13") long.  The golden bamboo lemur weighs an average of 1.6 kg (3.5 lb).

Habitat:

Primary mid-altitude rainforest associated with bamboo (Garbutt 1999).

The golden bamboo lemur lives in the Madagascar & Indian Ocean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005).

Gestation Period:

138 days (Tan 1999a).

Birth Season:

The golden bamboo lemur mates in July - August and gives birth coincident with the onset of the rainy season in November and December. (Garbutt 1999, Tan 1999a)

Birth Rate:

One infant is born every year (Williams 2001).

Early Development:

Mothers choose secluded areas to 'nest' their newborn young for the first 10 - 14 days. Weaning occurs at 6 months. ( Tan 1999a)

Dispersal:

1 female dispersed from her natal group at 3 years of age ( Tan 1999a).

Diet:

The golden bamboo lemur's diet consists mainly of new shoots of giant bamboo. In one study, the golden bamboo lemur spent 78% of its feeding time on one species of bamboo - the giant bamboo (Cathariostachys madagascariensis (formerly thought to be C. viguieri)), 10% on other bamboo species (including bamboo grasses), 3% on non-bamboo foliage, 4% on fruit, and 5% on other foods (mostly soil and mushrooms). It prefers young bamboo leaf bases and shoots. (Williams 2001)

The young shoots of the giant bamboo have been shown to be very protein-rich, but also to contain high levels of cyanide toxins that would normally be lethal. The growing shoots contain 0.015 % of cyanide. Individual lemurs eat 500 g (18 oz) of bamboo/day, which should contain 12 times the lethal dose of cyanide. How these lemurs avoid the effects of cyanide poisoning is unknown. (Rowe 1996, Garbutt 1999)

Behavior:

The golden bamboo lemur is mostly crepuscular and sometimes nocturnal. On average, it travels less than 400 m (1300') in a single day. Locomotion is by vertical clinging and leaping, although a quadrupedal gait is common on horizontal surfaces. Leaping happens from both quadrupedal and vertical positions. (Garbutt 1999, Williams 2001)

Social Organization:

Studies of this lemur show the group size to be between 2 - 6, with 3 - 4 being the norm. Typically, a group consists of an adult male and female, with slightly smaller subadults and juveniles. (Garbutt 1999)

Density and Range:

Home ranges of 26 hectares (65 acres) and 80 hectares (200 acres) have been reported for the golden bamboo lemur (Williams 2001).


References

Arkive, CNN, Cons. Intl. 2005, Garbutt 1999, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Macdonald 2001, Meier et al. 1987, Mittermeier et al. 1994, Oryx 1988g, Roberts 1992, Rowe 1996, SUNY - Stony Brook, Tan 1999, Tan 1999a, Williams 2001


Top of Page | Search This Site

Home | Rarest Mammals | Species Index | Species Groups Index | Country Index | Links


Last modified: March 7, 2005;

© 1999 - 2014 Animal Info. Endangered animals of the world. SJ Contact Us.