Wednesday, April 5, 2017

By J.E. Rogers

Lemurs are indigenous to Madagascar, an island off the east coast of Africa. They are stunning, come in various sizes and colors, and most species are endangered.

Red Ruffed Lemur
Photo credit:

This week, we’ll discuss one lemur in particular, the Indri (Indri Indri). The Indri is the largest of all lemur species and the only one without a tail. The local Malagasy tribes called out ‘indri, indri’ when pointing out this species of lemur to European naturalists who arrived in Madagascar to study it. ‘Indri,’ in local tongue simply means ‘there it is’ hence its name.

Also, the tail-less aspect of the Indri has caused another local tribe, the Betsimisaraka, to refer to the Indri as babakoto, which means ‘ancestor of man.’  The Betsimisaraka people believe that it is an ancient ancestor of their people. As a result of this belief, hunting of the Indri is considered taboo, and the Indri, therefore, does have some protection. Despite this, the Indri, according to the IUCN* Red List, is critically endangered.

Photo credit: Kevin Schaefer via

The Indri is a stunning black and white lemur. It’s very athletic. Their legs are so powerful that the Indri can easily travel upright between trees. They can leap up to thirty-two feet from tree to tree. It typically jumps from one tree trunk to another, holding their arms out to encircle the tree and complete their jump. They have short, round, tufted ears, long legs, and short arms. Their opposable big toes and thumbs are separated from the other four digits, which are webbed. All of these attributes combine to make life in the trees possible for the Indri.

Red-Fronted Brown Lemur
Photo credit: Photo Ark - Joel Sartore

In the following video, you will see the Indri's skills at jumping and hear their eerie call. You will also learn a bit from the inestimable David Attenborough as he discusses this marvelous creature.

Indri range

Populations of the Indri, which prefer living in coastal regions, are fragmented. Habitat fragmentation of any animal population leads to less habitable space, which then has a direct effect on population growth. Another factor effecting the survival of the Indri is that it takes nine years for the lemur to mature and after maturity, the female will give birth to one offspring every two to three years. Combine this with an infant mortality rate of fifty percent, and it is clear why there is a severe problem with population growth.

So what is habitat fragmentation? It is the destruction by humans, of a continuous chunk of habitat by cut clearing or burning. People do this to either create agricultural areas for farming, extend urbanization or for the collection of resources that may be available in that habitat. To read more about habitat fragmentation and its effect on the environment, visit the following site:

The result of habitat fragmentation.

The Indri is diurnal and will travel in groups of 300 to 700 animals in search of fruit. They are two to two and one-half feet tall and can weigh between thirteen and twenty pounds. Leaves are a major part of their diet, new shouts being the most desirable. They will also eat fruit, seeds, and flowers.

Photo credit: ©  via

Although there are conservation efforts in place, one major problem remains to be solved. The Indri does not do well in captivity. As a result, breeding programs to reintroduce this species into the wild may fail. Also, the mere fact that Madagascar is an island is a huge stumbling block. There is simply nowhere for the animals to go.

Thank you for stopping by to read my post and for considering the status of this marvelous mammal. Please come by again, leave a comment, or share.

*IUCN = International Union of Conservation of Nature

To learn more about the Indri, visit the following sites:


Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza, The Gift of Sunderland and
One Hot Mess, A Child’s Environmental Fable
Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!

To learn more about me, visit my ‘author page’ on Amazon:


Kohana, A Native American Creation Myth 

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