(Indri indri)
Indri simply means ‘there it is’ in the Malagasy language. The species got its name from local people shouting ‘indri indri!’ when pointing out the animal to European naturalists. The Betsimisaraka tribal name for the species, “babakoto”, means “ancestor of man”. Since it is the largest of the surviving lemurs and the only species to lack a visible tail, the Malagasy people think that it resembles their sacred ancestors. It therefore receives a degree of protection from native fady (taboo) traditions that prohibit its consumption. However, it is still threatened by habitat loss due to logging and slash-and-burn agriculture, which occurs even within protected areas.
Urgent Conservation Actions
Habitat protection, surveys to determine status and distribution both within and outside of protected areas. Research into a possible captive breeding programme recommended.
Restricted to eastern Madagascar.
Associated Blog Posts
30th Jul 12
Indri simply means ‘there it is’ in the Malagasy language. The species got its name from local people shouting ‘indri indri!’ when pointing out the a...  Read

Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Order: Primates
Family: Indridae
Lemurs belong to the suborder Strepsirhini, which also includes bushbabies, pottos and lorises. These groups are the most basal living primates. Ancestral prosimians, possibly resembling today’s mouse lemurs, are thought to have colonised Madagascar from mainland Africa 50-60 million years ago. In the absence of competition from other non-primate mammals, these species diversified to fill a wide range of unusual ecological niches. There are five distinct families of lemurs: Lemuridae, Indriidae, Megaladapidae, Cheirogaleidae and Daubentoniidae. The Indriidae comprises six species in three genera: Avahi (woolly lemurs), Propithicus (sifakas), and Indri. The indri is the only species in its genus.
Head and body length: 610-900 mm
Tail length: 50-64 mm
Weight: 6-10 kg
The indri is the largest of the living lemurs, and is further distinguished from other lemurs by its almost total lack of tail. Indris have a dense coat of silky black and white fur, and prominent black tufted ears. The face and muzzle are black and the eyes are yellow-green. Colouration varies considerably between populations, with individuals at the southern extreme of the species’ range tending to have larger patches of white fur than the predominantly black individuals in the north. Indris are well adapted to their arboreal lifestyle. They have long slender hind limbs, and move through the canopy with spectacular bounds of up to ten metres between vertical branches and trunks. The species is easily located and identified by its eerie wailing loud song, which can carry for more than 2 km.
The most strictly diurnal of all lemurs, the indri forages during daylight hours for leaves, flowers and fruit, which it eats in varying proportions according to the season. Indris are arboreal and spend the majority of its time in the canopy, although individuals occasionally descend to the ground to eat earth. The species lives in groups of 2-6 individuals, which are thought to consist of an adult pair and their offspring. Females are dominant to males and have priority at food resources. The average home range size is around 18 ha. The indri’s characteristic calls serve to unite groups and determine territories, and this probably accounts for the relatively small degree of overlap between the ranges of neighbouring groups. Males further defend the territories by marking them with urine and secretions from glands in their muzzles.

Reproduction is seasonal, with births occurring in May or June, after a gestation period of 4-5 months. By 8 months the infants are moving independently, but they remain with their mothers until well into their second year. This species has an extremely low reproductive rate. Females do not reach sexual maturity until around 7-9 years of age. They give birth to a single young every two to three years, and infant mortality is high, with 50% of infants dying before they are 2 years old from falls, injuries or illnesses.
Inhabits primary and secondary lowland and mid-altitude rainforest (from sea level to 1,500 m).
Endemic to Madagascar. This species inhabits the eastern rainforests from the Mangoro River north to Sambava, but excluding the Masoala Peninsula.
Population Estimate
There are no population figures available, but a reasonable order of magnitude estimate would be 1,000-10,000.
Classified as Endangered A2cd on the 2010 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The indri is threatened by the loss of its rainforest habitat for fuel, timber and slash-and-burn agriculture, with destruction occurring even within protected areas. Its habitat is now so fragmented that few areas are thought to be large enough to support viable populations of the species. Many local people consider hunting of the indri taboo or fady due to its perceived resemblance to the sacred ancestors of the Malagasy. However, there are reports that immigrants occasionally kill the species for food. The indri is particularly vulnerable to these threats due to its low reproductive rate.
Conservation Underway
The species is listed on Appendix I of CITES. It is found in at least seven protected areas (the Mantady and Verezanantsoro National Parks, the Betampona and Zahamena Nature Reserves, and the Ambatovaky, Analamazaotra and Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserves), although many of these areas are in need of better protection. The Malagasy government announced in 2003 that it is committed to tripling the nation’s total protected areas to six million hectares by 2008. Two of the newly protected areas – the Mantadia-Zahamena corridor and Anjozorobe – contain indris. Attempts to keep the species in captivity have proved unsuccessful, and there are currently no indri in captivity anywhere in the world.
Conservation Proposed
The species was given the Highest Priority rating in the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group’s Lemur Action Plan. Habitat protection was identified as the most important conservation measure required as the species cannot tolerate habitat disturbance. The action plan also recommended that surveys be carried out to determine the size and status of indri populations in protected areas, and in areas not currently protected to determine the true distribution of the species. Research into a possible captive breeding programme in Madagascar is also recommended to insure against possible extinction in the wild.
Conservation International news release: Madagascar Expands Protected Areas Under Visionary Conservation Policy (Mar 22 2006)

Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG)
MFG is an international collaboration of zoos and related organizations that work together to conserve one of the worlds most endangered regions in the world. MGF works closely with AZA and aims to sustain the high levels of unique biodiversity and protect the many endemic species of Madagascar. MFG offer many areas of support including protection of parks and nature reserves, field research, breeding programmes, conservation planning, education and technical support.

Andrainarivo, C., Andriaholinirina, V.N., Feistner, A., Felix, T., Ganzhorn, J., Garbutt, N., Golden, C., Konstant, B., Louis Jr., E., Meyers, D., Mittermeier, R.A., Perieras, A., Princee, F., Rabarivola, J.C., Rakotosamimanana, B., Rasamimanana, H., Ratsimbazafy, J., Raveloarinoro, G., Razafimanantsoa, A., Rumpler, Y., Schwitzer, C., Thalmann, U., Wilmé, L. & Wright, P. 2008. Indri indri. In: 2010 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. Downloaded on 12 November 2010.

Garbutt, N. 1999. Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press. East Sussex.

Langrand, O., Nicoll, M.E., Konstant, R. and Mittermeier, W. 1992. Lemurs of Madagascar: An Action Plan for their Conservation. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Nowak, R.M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Sixth edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.

Quinnh, A. and Wilson, D. E. 2002. Indri indri. Mammalian Species 694: 1-5.

Animal Info. (Jan 2006).

ARKive. (Jan 2006).

Distribution map based on data provided by the IUCN Global Mammal Assessment.

if you can provide new information to update this species account or to correct any errors, please email us at info@edgeofexistence.org

Forum comments
  1. Anonymous

    hey, i'm donig a science project, and this site helped a ton! thanks! it wicked hard to find any info on indri's!

    Posted 8 years ago #
  2. Anonymous

    Excellent site, beautiful animal! I wish there were some fundable land conservation projects for this species.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  3. Anonymous

    yo indris rule!

    Posted 8 years ago #
  4. Sally Wren
    EDGE Team

    We're glad the website helped you out!

    Posted 8 years ago #
  5. Anonymous

    hey i am a student in college, i am studying africa, and this really helped.

    Posted 8 years ago #

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