Mammals of Andasibe Part 1 – Lemurs and Carnivores

Lemurs

This is the realm of the lemurs, both diurnal and nocturnal. While the enigmatic Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus) is the rarest of the Andasibe region’s 14 species, the eerie song of the Indri (Indri indri) is the epitaph of Andasibe. Indri are easily found with the help of local guides in the morning within Analamazaotra Forest Station, an experience not to be missed while visiting.

Next to the Indri, perhaps the next two most charismatic lemur species of Andasibe are best searched for in the forests north of the village, at Torotorofotsy and Mantadia National Park. Here it is possible — with some luck — to observe the Diademed Sifaka (Propithecus diadema) and Black and White Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata), the latter more often heard than seen.

Diademed Sifaka are best viewed in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park.

Diademed Sifaka are best viewed in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park.

A tiny local endemic only described in 2005 – Goodman’s Mouse Lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara) — as well as Dwarf Lemurs (Cheirogaleus spp.), the Eastern Woolly Lemur (Avahi laniger) and the Greater Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur mustelinus) are all common nocturnal encounters.

Less often stumbled upon at night is the Hairy-eared Dwarf Lemur (Allocebus trichotis). Andasibe is also home to the seldom seen and bizarre Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis).

allocebus01

The infrequently observed nocturnal Hairy-eared Dwarf Lemur (Allocebus trichotis).

In addition to the Greater Bamboo Lemur, the more widespread Lesser Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur griseus) also inhabits the forests around Andasibe. As their name suggests, the majority of their diet consists of bamboo, though they also will feed on leaves, fruit and flowers.

Lesser Bamboo Lemur

Lesser Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur griseus)

If there is only one lemur that will be seen while in Andasibe, it is the Common Brown Lemur (Eulemur fulvus), which can even be found scrounging around the garbage of the National Park entrance in search of leftover banana peels or mango rinds.

Carnivores

Next to humans, the main predator of the above lemurs is the Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), the largest carnivore in Madagascar. Though at first glance they may look like a large muscular feline, they are in fact related to mongoose, as are all carnivores in Madagascar.

The Fossa, Madagascar's largest carnivore, is found in Andasibe but rarely seen. Photo in captivity by Ran Kirlian

The Fossa, Madagascar’s largest carnivore, is found in Andasibe but rarely seen. Photo (taken in captivity) by Ran Kirlian.

In Andasibe, the Fossa seems to be rare but occasionally a spotting is reported during their mating season between October and December when males leave their solo lifestyle and together congregate around a mate.

Not to be confused with the Fossa, though its scientific name does just that, the Fanaloka or Malagasy Civet (Fossa fossana) is the size of a large housecat and patterned in elegant black bands and spots. They are nocturnal and very rarely found.

Fanaloka (Fossa fossana). Photo by Joaquín Romero Redondo.

Fanaloka (Fossa fossana). Photo by Joaquín Romero Redondo.

Similar in size or slightly larger than the Malagasy Civet is the Falanouc (Eupleres goudotii), which have an awkwardly broad tail and angular pointed snout.

The most commonly observed carnivore may be the Ring-tail Mongoose (Galidia elegans), which of the four carnivores of Andasibe is the only one active during the day. They are small and weasel-like in size and shape, with an elegant banded tail and russet body.

The Ring-tailed Mongoose is active during the day and occasionally encountered. Photo by Jeff Gibbs.

The Ring-tailed Mongoose is active during the day and occasionally encountered. Photo by Jeff Gibbs.

There are unconfirmed reports that Malagasy Striped Mongoose (Galidictis striata) and the exotic Small Indian Civet (Viverricula indica) may also be found in Andasibe.

Lemurs and Carnivores of Andasibe

Primates:
Microcebus lehilahytsara Goodman’s Mouse Lemur
Cheirogaleus major Greater Dwarf Lemur
Cheirogaleus crossleyi Furry-eared Dwarf Lemur
Allocebus trichotis Hairy-eared Dwarf Lemur
Lepilemur mustelinus Greater Sportive Lemur
Prolemur simus Greater Bamboo Lemur
Hapalemur griseus Lesser Bamboo Lemur
Eulemur fulvus Common Brown Lemur
Eulemur rubriventer Red-bellied Lemur
Varecia variegata Black and White Ruffed Lemur
Propithecus diadema Diademed Sifaka
Avahi laniger Eastern Woolly Lemur
Indri indri Indri
Daubentonia madagascariensis Aye-aye
Carnivora:
Eupleres goudotii Falanouc – Mongoose-like
Cryptoprocta ferox Fossa
Galidia elegans Ring-tail Mongoose
Fossa fossana Fanaloka – Malagasy Civet
Galidictis striata? Malagasy Striped Mongoose
Viverricula indica? Small Indian Civet

The Story of Mitsinjo and the Greater Bamboo Lemur

By Rainer Dolch

The Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus) is the largest of Madagascar’s bamboo-eating lemurs and one of the most threatened lemurs in Madagascar. For more than a century, it was believed to be extinct in almost all Madagascar, except for a remnant population in the south-east of the island.

The Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus), one of the most endangered primates in the world, is one of our target species that we have monitored at Torotorofotsy

The Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus), one of the most endangered primates in the world, is one of Mitsinjo’s focal species.

In 2004, thanks to the intrepid Jean Rafalimandimby, Mitsinjo excitingly discovered a new population of the Greater Bamboo Lemur in Torotorofotsy, reconfirming that this critically endangered bamboo specialist species still holds on in areas where it had gone unnoticed for so long.

Mitsinjo members Rafaly and Tiana Radio-tracking the Greater Bamboo Lemur at Torotorofotsy.

Mitsinjo members Rafaly and Tiana Radio-tracking the Greater Bamboo Lemur at Torotorofotsy.

Together with our partner organizations (The Aspinall FoundationConservation International, GERP), Mitsinjo designed and conducted methodical surveys into the Ankeniheny-Zahamena forest corridor (that lies to the north of Torotorofotsy) and into the Marolambo-Nosivolo area. With the invaluable help of local people in these areas, results have since yielded evidence for several further populations of this critically endangered lemur scattered throughout these forests.


Prolemur simus research and conservation actions undertaken by Mitsinjo 

– Rediscovered population at Torotorofotsy when the species was thought to have since been extinct outside southeast Madagascar.

– Conducted surveys for Prolemur simus in forest corridor further east and north of Torotorofotsy.

– Potential investigation further away in Makira and Tsinjoarivo (with Sadabe).

– Monitored population at Torotorofotsy for two years using radio-telemetry.

– Contributed to the formation of the Prolemur simus Working Group


We have also looked into the possible occurrence of the species in places as far away as Tsinjoarivo (with Sadabe) and Makira (with Simpona).

At the same time as we searched for new populations, Mitsinjo (in collaboration with the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership) radio-collared several animals in Torotorofotsy and, during two years of monitoring, gathered a wealth of data on their behaviour, and ecology that will help design an adequate conservation action plan Prolemur simus. Further research by our para-ecologist team focuses on collecting fecal samples for genetic analyses and on bamboo density necessary for the survival of the species.

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The classic traces of the greater bamboo lemur: large piles of broken bamboo.

The species apparently requires very large home ranges. As a consequence, the Torotorofotsy population of Prolemur simus is not restricted to the Ramsar site of the same name but ventures out into areas being encroached by mining. Mitsinjo coordinates with both the Ambatovy nickel mine and the Izouard/Louys graphite mine in order to minimize possible impacts from their respective activities.

Greater Bamboo Lemur

Mitsinjo’s committment to saving the Greater Bamboo Lemur has since contributed to the formation of the Prolemur simus Working Group, kindly initiated by the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group.