Wild Madagascar: Photos Reveal Island's Amazing Lemurs

Lemur Life

The furry face of a red ruffed lemur.

(Image credit: Astrid Lenz | Shutterstock)

The quirky 100-plus lemur species call just one place home: the island of Madagascar. Since arriving there some 62 million years ago, the primates that became lemurs have enjoyed an island paradise, where there were few predators and plenty of food. The tens of current species have taken on various shapes and sizes, as well as lifestyles.

Now, results of a June 2012 conference of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission finds that many lemurs are on the brink of extinction due primarily to habitat loss. Here's a look at our wacky Madagascar pals.

Ghostly Stare?

Greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus)

(Image credit: © Conservation International/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier)

A prosimian primate, lemur in Latin means "ghost." In fact, lemurs' haunting stares and nocturnal activity have led many of the Malagasy people to believe they are ghostlike or spiritlike creatures, according to Duke University Lemur Center. Here, a greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus).

Red-Ruffed Lemur

A red-ruffed lemur

(Image credit: © Conservation International/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier)

This red-ruffed lemur is found only in the rain forests of Masoala, in the northeast of the island. It is one of the largest primates of Madagascar with a body length of 20 inches (53 centimeters), a tail length of 24 inches (60 cm) and a weight of up to 9 pounds (4 kilograms).

Gray Backs

The Diademed sifaka

(Image credit: © Conservation International/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier)

The Diademed sifaka (Propiethecus diadema) is the largest species of the genus Propithecus; it has long silky fur that's gray on the back and shoulders.

Baby Blues

The blue-eyed black lemur

(Image credit: © Conservation International/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier)

The blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons), a male shown here, is the only primate species other than humans that has blue eyes.

Pipsqueak

Madame Berthe's mouse lemur

(Image credit: © Conservation International/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier)

The world's smallest primate, the Madame Berthe's mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae) weighs just 30 grams. Here, the primate is being released into the forest, Kirindy, Madagascar, in August 2007.

Panda Fame?

indri lemur of Madagascar

(Image credit: © Conservation International/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier)

Among the most spectacular species of lemurs assessed as "critically endangered," is the indri, the largest of the living lemurs and a species of symbolic value comparable to that of China's giant panda.

Hanging Out

The Diademed sifaka

(Image credit: © Conservation International/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier)

A Diademed sifaka (Propiethecus diadema) suspended from a tree branch.

The Oreo Lemur

black-and-white ruffed lemur

(Image credit: © Conservation International/photo by Sterling Zumbrunn)

A black-and-white ruffed lemur ( Varecia variegata). In general, ruffed lemurs are found in the eastern rain forests of Madagascar, with this one having a wider range than the other ruffed-lemur species, V. rubra, according to the University of Wisconson-Madison's National Primate Research Center.