Black-and-white ruffed lemurs.
The tree-dwellers of Madagascar
A direct path leads from the kingdom of the Barbary apes to the highlands of the lemurs. There you will meet the black-and-white ruffed lemurs (varecia variegata). With their long, dog-like noses, they don’t look much like primates. They belong to the lemur primate group, a notable characteristic of which are their wet noses.
Black-and-white ruffed lemurs can grow to up to 57 centimetres. At 60 to 65 centimetres, their tail is a good deal longer than the rest of the body. In a protected environment these lemurs can live for as long as 30 years. Their fur has a black-and-white pattern, and they have a small ear tuft and a very characteristic ruff. Black-and-white ruffed lemurs are known for their loud cries, which can be heard from a long way away.
Area of origin
Black-and-white ruffed lemurs live in the eastern part of the island of Madagascar, where they are at home in the rain forests. They spend most of their time in trees and only rarely come down to the ground. They mainly live in small family groups of between two and five animals. When the young are newly born, they are looked after solely by the mother, who builds them a safe nest out of twigs and leaves.
Black-and-white ruffed lemurs prefer fruit, but they will also eat leaves, seeds or nectar. On occasion they will also enjoy birds’ eggs and insects.
Humans pose the biggest risk to black-and-white ruffed lemurs. In Madagascar humans are deforesting the rain forests and robbing the lemurs of their habitat. With their loud cries, black-and-white ruffed lemurs are easy prey for hunters. In 1975 the nature reserve Beza Mahafaly was set up in the south of Madagascar. Four lemur species have found a safe home there. This may also be how we can save the black-and-white ruffed lemurs from extinction.