The golden bamboo lemur is so called because of the golden fur around its face, inner limbs and belly.
It was first described by Western science 30 years ago, in 1987. Bamboo lemurs are a genus of 5 species, and are the only primates in the world that specialise on a bamboo diet. Every day the golden bamboo lemur eats around 500g of soft stalks and growing tips of giant bamboo, which represents 12 times the lethal dose of cyanide for most mammals. This species has evidently adapted and evolved resistance to the high levels of cyanide within the young bamboo leaves that it eats. Lemurs are the most basal living primates, deriving from a lineage that has independently evolved on the island of Madagascar for 50-60 million years; forming five distinct families of lemur. The golden bamboo lemur comes from the Lemuridae family, and are in the Hapalemur genus with five other species. The species is threatened primarily by the continued loss of its forest habitat due to slash-and-burn agriculture and destruction of bamboo forests for building houses, carrying water, making baskets and other local uses, though they suffer from some hunting pressure.
- Order: Primates
- Family: Lemuridae
- Population: 630
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 260-458mm
- Weight: 1-2.5kg
Endemic to Madagascar, the species is known to occur in small patches of rainforest in south-eastern Madagascar, including Ranomafana National Park and Andringitra Nature Reserve.
Habitat and Ecology
The Golden bamboo lemurs’ live in primary rainforests that contain giant bamboo, on which they feed almost exclusively. They feed on new shoots, leaf bases and the creepers of the endemic Cephalostachium madagascariensis giant bamboo species. They are a social species that lives in small family ground of around 2-6 individuals.