Verreaux's Sifaka

Verreaux's Sifaka is a medium sized primate in one of the lemur families, Indriidae. It lives in Madagascar and can be found in a variety of habitats from rainforest to western Madagascar dry deciduous forests and dry and spiny forests. The fur is thick and silky and generally white with brown on the sides, top of the head, and on the arms. Like all sifakas, it has a long tail that it uses as a balance when leaping from tree to tree. However, its body is so highly adapted to an arboreal existence that on the ground its only means of locomotion is hopping. The species lives in small troops which they forage for food with.

There are four sub species of this kind of lemur. There are many things unknown about Verreaux's Sifaka, so their life span in the wild has not been approximated, but in captivity they generally live to become up to 18 years old.


Verreaux's Sifaka forage for food in the troop it lives in, primarily in the morning and late afternoon, so they can rest during the hottest part of the day. They are herbivores and leaves, fruit, bark and flowers are typical components of the diet. However, they are mostly folivorous (leaves represent the majority of the diet over the year, especially in the dry season) and the seem to choose food items on the ground of quality (lower tannin content) than on the ground of availability.


They live in family groups, or troops, of 2-12, which may be just one male and female or multimale-multifemale. Group and population sex ratio can be more or less skewed toward males. Many groups seem to be effectively harem groups with a single dominant male unrelated with resident female(s). They have a home range of 2.8.5ha, and although they are territorial, it is the food source they will defend rather than the territory's boundaries, as often boundaries overlap. Females are dominant over males, forming a society using Matriarchy.

Females use anogenital secretion mainly for territory demarcation whereas males seem to use specialized secretions (via anogenital and throat glands) more for sexual "advertisement" than for territorial purposes.

Over the year males and females engage in a biological market, exchanging grooming for grooming (interchange) during the non mating period, and grooming ("offered" by males) for reproductive opportunities (sexual access "offered" by females) during the mating period. Recently, it has been discovered that sifaka dyads often engage in post-conflict reunions after aggressive episodes: reconciliation occurs more frequently when food is not involved and for low intensity aggressions.

They are diurnal and arboreal, and engage in sunbathing with outstretched arms and legs. Verreaux's sifaka move through the trees by clinging and leaping between vertical supports. They are capable of making remarkable leaps through the trees - distances of 9-10m are not uncommon. On the ground, they hop bipedally.


Females give birth to one infant after a gestation period of 130 days, between June and August. For the first 6–8 weeks, the infant clings to the mother's stomach, but for the following 19 weeks, it clings to her back.

Conservation status

Currently this species is considered to be Vulnerable by the IUCN.



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