Endemic to Madagascar, Ring-tailed lemurs are easy to spot due to their long, striped black and white tails. Thought to have floated to Madagascar on rafts of vegetation millions of years ago, lemur’s like many of Madagascan species have evolved very differently to other animals around the world due to Madagascar’s isolation. A fun fact for all the ladies out there, it is actually the females that are dominant in lemurs.
Ring-tailed lemurs use their distinctive tails to to communicate with each other, they will also use them in “stink battles” by rubbing scents on their tails and flicking them at other lemurs.
Ring-tailed lemurs spend a lot of their time on the ground (as you might notice when you are at the park) foraging for fruit, leaves, flowers, sap and tree bark to eat.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park is home to two red-bellied lemurs. One of the most territorial of all lemurs in Madagascar, red-bellied lemurs are categorised as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
Red-bellied lemurs are different to other primates due to their muzzled face and wet nose. Active during both day and night making them a cathemeral species, male red-bellied lemurs have a large scent gland on their forehead used to mark territory.
The population of red-bellied lemurs is sadly in decline with there believed to be around 20,000 red bellied lemurs left in the rainforests of Madagascar.
The Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation awarded a 3 year grant of £5,000 a year to help establish and run a protected reserve to help save the blue-eyed black lemur from extinction. Slash and burn land clearing and hunting in its native Madagascar have reduced numbers to less than 1,000 in the wild with experts facing a race against time to save it. The grant will support lemur conservation projects including protection of the blue-eyed black lemurs’ habitat, education of the local communities, developing eco-tourism and promoting research and studies of the animals in their native habitat.
The project is run by the AEECL (Association Européenne pour l’Étude et la Conservation des Lémuriens), a charitable consortium of European zoos and universities, dedicated to lemur conservation. It works in the remote north-west reaches of the Indian Ocean island Madagascar. It has a permanent research station in the region and collaborates with the local Malagasy communities to develop conservation, build schools, fund schoolteachers, restore forests and improve the economy.
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