Animal Info - Golden-crowned Sifaka

(Other Names: Ankomba Malandy, Indris Sifaca, Simpona, Tattersall's Sifaka)

Propithecus tattersalli

Status: Critically Endangered


Contents

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


Profile

Pictures: Golden-crowned Sifaka #1 (7 Kb JPEG) (Kids Ecol. Corps); Golden-crowned Sifaka #2 (mother and young) (30 Kb JPEG); Golden-crowned Sifaka #3 (73 Kb JPEG) (Brian Grossi)

The golden-crowned sifaka is a medium-large lemur characterized by short, mostly white fur, prominent furry ears and a golden-orange crown. It weighs about 3.5 kg (7.7 lb) and is about 50 cm (20") long. It is found in gallery, semi-evergreen and dry deciduous forest where it is mostly diurnal and sleeps in tall emergent trees. The diet of the golden-crowned sifaka consists mainly of seeds, shoots, unripe fruit, young and mature leaves and flowers. The size of golden-crowned sifaka groups varies from 3 - 10 individuals and averages about 5 individuals. Groups usually include 2 adults of each sex, but only 1 female reproduces each year. Within the group, females are usually dominant to males.

The golden-crowned sifaka is confined to a small area between the Manambato and Loky Rivers in northeast Madagascar. It is one of the most endangered lemurs. This species has one of the smallest ranges and documented population sizes of any lemur. Its geographical range is perhaps only 30 - 35 km (19 - 22 mi) in diameter (equivalent to a roughly circular area of 710 - 960 sq km (272 - 370 sq mi)). The total population is spread among a number of discontinuous forest fragments.  The largest single population is estimated to be around 2500 individuals. 

The forests throughout its limited range are already severely fragmented, and the species only occurs in isolated forest remnants that are surrounded by agriculture. The major threats are gold mining and loss of habitat due to conversion for agriculture. Mining activities are destroying habitat and miners are hunting the animals of the region for food. Additional threats include uncontrolled grass fires, wood extraction for housing, firewood production, and logging.


Tidbits

*** The golden-crowned sifaka was not described by science until 1988.

*** In certain parts of Madagascar, there is a strong traditional taboo against hunting certain species (called fady in the Malagasy language). Fortunately, people who live in the golden-crowned sifaka's range consider it to be fady, although others moving into the area do not. (Mittermeier et al. 1994)

*** Prosimians groom in a rather unique way: most prosimians (golden-crowned sifaka included) have 6 lower teeth that stick straight out from their jaw, forming a comb that the animals use to groom their fur and the fur of other members of their social group (Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2003b).

*** Sifakas are comparatively silent, even though their common name derives from their contact call ("Shee-fak") (Macdonald 2001).


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Golden-crowned Sifaka Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Madagascar (IUCN 2004).

Population Estimates:

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

History of Distribution:

The golden-crowned sifaka is confined to a very small area between the Manambato and Loky Rivers in northeast Madagascar. It is one of the most endangered lemurs. This species has one of the smallest ranges and documented population sizes of any lemur. Its geographical range is perhaps only 30 - 35 km (19 - 22 mi) in diameter (equivalent to a roughly circular area of 710 - 960 sq km (272 - 370 sq mi)). The total population is spread among a number of discontinuous forest fragments.  The largest single population is estimated to be around 2500 individuals. (Garbutt 1999)

Distribution Map (14 Kb GIF) 

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

The forests throughout the golden-crowned sifaka's limited range are already severely fragmented, and the species only occurs in isolated forest remnants that are surrounded by agriculture. The major threats are gold mining and loss of habitat due to conversion for agriculture. Mining activities are destroying habitat and miners are hunting the animals of the region for food. Additional threats include uncontrolled grass fires, wood extraction for housing, firewood production, and logging. (Garbutt 1999, Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2003b)


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size and Weight:

The golden-crowned sifaka has a head and body length of 45 - 47 cm (18 - 19") and a tail length of 42 - 47 cm (17 - 19").  It weighs about 3.5 kg (7.7 lb). (Garbutt 1999) 

Habitat:

The golden-crowned sifaka is found in gallery, semi-evergreen and dry deciduous forest.  It is not observed above an altitude of 700 m (2300') (Vargas et al. 2002).

The golden-crowned sifaka lives in the Madagascar & Indian Ocean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005).

Age to Maturity:

2 - 3 years to sexual maturity (Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2003b).

Gestation Period:

Approximately 165 days (Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2003b).

Birth Season:

Late June.

Birth Rate:

One young is born per year.

Early Development:

An infant clings to its mother's belly for the first 3 weeks, only moving from this position to nurse.  At approximately 3 weeks of age, the young sifaka begins spending time riding, jockey style, on its mother's back. It will then begin to learn to walk and to taste solid food, sampling bits of whatever the other members of its group are eating. Nursing continues, in a steady decline in importance in the infant's diet, until it is weaned in December at 5 - 6 months old. Following weaning, the mother repeatedly refuses all attempts by the infant to suckle and only rarely allows her young to ride on her back for brief periods; for instance, during predator scares. By 1 year of age, young animals have attained around 70 % of normal adult body weight. (Garbutt 1999Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2003b)

Maximum Age:

25 - 30 years.

Diet:

The diet of the golden-crowned sifaka consists mainly of seeds, shoots, unripe fruit, young and mature leaves and flowers. Bark is occasionally eaten during the dry season. Immature leaves are preferred, and these sifakas will forage over a wider area than normal in search of them. 

Behavior:

The golden-crowned sifaka is diurnal and mostly arboreal, although it is sometimes active before dawn and after dark during the rainy season. It sleeps in tall emergent trees. Indri, sifakas and woolly lemurs have body plans that support a highly specialized mode of locomotion: vertical-clinging-and-leaping. Powerful legs, about 1/3 longer than their arms, propel them between trees while allowing them to keep an upright body posture. (Garbutt 1999Macdonald 2001)

Social Organization:

The size of golden-crowned sifaka groups varies from 3 - 10 and averages about 5 individuals. Groups usually include 2 adults of each sex, but usually only 1 female reproduces each year. Males sometimes switch groups during the mating season. Within the group, females are usually dominant to males, with the females having preferential access to food and the choice of whom to mate with. Social bonds within the group are established and reinforced by grooming. (Garbutt 1999Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2003b)

Density and Range:

Density:

  • Within areas of good-quality forest, population densities may reach 60 - 70 individuals/sq km (130 - 150 individuals/sq mi) (Garbutt 1999).

Range:


References

Arkive, Cons. Intl. 2005, Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr., Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2003b, Garbutt 1999, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Kids Ecol. Corps, Macdonald 2001, Mittermeier et al. 1994, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Oryx 1989j, Oryx 2003a, Vargas et al. 2002


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Last modified: January 8;

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