Diademed Sifaka Lemurs (Propithecus diadema)

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Diademed Lemur at Mantadia National Park

A Diademed Sifaka lemur getting ready to leap to another tree at the Mantadia National Park, Madagascar

The Diademed Sifaka (Propithecus diadema) belongs to the species of lemurs of the Genus Propithecus of the Indriidae family of woolly lemurs. These lemurs are endemic to the humid equatorial rainforests of Madagascar. They are also known as Diademed Simpona and by other local names such as Simpony and Ankomba Joby.

Visitors to Madagascar can easily view the Propithecus diadema lemurs at the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park near Antananarivo, the capital city. The park has two components, the Mantadia National Park and the Analamazoatra Reserve, both of which are famous for 11 species of lemurs, and a vast biodiversity consisting of several rare endemic species and some endangered species. Some of these species are seen only in Madagascar, as these developed in the process of evolution independently of other species in mainland Africa.

This species is one of the largest extant lemurs and the most colorful of all other lemurs, and it has a long and luxuriant silky coat. The long white fur around its muzzle covering its chin, cheeks and forehead forms a ‘diadem’ (or crown) that perhaps gave them the name Diademed Sifaka.

These lemurs are diurnal, arboreal and seen on the ground only on rare occasions. When they are on the ground, they move with sideways hopping on their hind limbs only and keeping their forelimbs held up for maintaining balance. They can easily cling and climb on vertical tree trunks and branches. They can also jump from one tree to another by making powerful lateral leaps to reach other trees as far as 10 meters away.

These lemurs are now facing extinction and they are classified as a Critically Endangered species in the IUCN Red List. The main threat is from shrinking of their natural habitat, the forests, which are cleared for rice cultivation, extensive logging, replacement of the rainforest vegetation with commercial plantations such as the Chinese pine forests and Australian eucalyptus. The practice of shifting cultivation and slash-and-burn tactics practiced by the native people are taking a heavy toll on the population of these lemurs.

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