Found in the
south western part of the island of Madagascar and on
some small neighbouring islands, the Ring-tailed lemur
with its distinctive ringed tail and huge staring eyes
is threatened by habitat loss.
The Cango Wildlife Ranch originally acquired 5 of these
primates (4 males and one female) who became part of
the Valley of Ancients family. They have crept into the hearts of
all the staff at the Ranch, and help to educate
visitors on the repercussions of habitat destruction.They have been breeding very well, raising several twins in the troop.
Lemurs were often thought of as ghosts by early explorers
to Madagascar due to their huge staring eyes, elusive
behavior and the haunting sound that they make. These primates
spend most of their time in trees and can usually
be spotted in the early morning sitting in the sun with their
arms spread out.
A troop consists of up to 15 – 20 individuals
in which the females rule. When territorial fights break
out between groups, the females are the front lines
and will threaten opposing females by leaping and
darting towards them. It is also the female lemurs that
mark trees with their scent to warn off other intruders.
Males usually stay in the background until the battle
is over and should a squabble break out between a male
and a female, the female always wins the argument!
Males tend to come and go from one troop to another
whereas females will stay in the troop they were born
into. The core of a group consists of females and their
young who always find the best feeding spot and eat first
while the males wait for them to finish or feed
in a less desired feeding spot nearby.
When males want to show off to the females, they rub their tails with a smelly perfume they secrete from
glands in their wrists. Once soaked in their perfume,
they raise their tails over their heads, point them
at each other and fling the odour around to determine
who's scent is superrior.
Males reach maturity at the age of 18 months and females
at 30 months. Females are in oestrus for only one day
of the year. Gestation lasts 135 days after which
Mom will usually give birth to one infant only. The
baby clings to the female’s belly for the first
two weeks after which it will switch to riding on her
back. It is therefore not surprising that falling is
the leading cause of death among infants.
Of the original 40 species of lemurs in the world,
only 22 remain today, of which all are threatened. 14
Lemur species have gone extinct in recent years due
to hunting and habitat destruction. With the deforestation
continuing in Madagascar it is estimated that the Madagascar
Ring-tailed lemur will become extinct in the wild within
the next 30 years.