The largest of the bamboo lemurs, this species can be identified by its distinctive white ear tufts.
Discovered in 1870, it was believed to have become extinct by the early twentieth century. It was rediscovered in 1972. It is one of only a handful of mammals that specialise in eating bamboo. Completely dependent on this low-energy food source, the lemur must lead a very sedentary lifestyle and spend much of its time eating. As with many specialist species, this lemur is unable to adapt to its rapidly changing habitat. Lemurs are some of the most basal living primates, and have evolved for 50-60 million years independently on the island of Madagascar. Widespread clearing of its rainforest habitat, by slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal logging, mining, and cutting of bamboo, has caused populations to become isolated in the few remaining patches of forest capable of supporting this species.
- Order: Primates
- Family: Lemuridae
- Population: 500
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 260-458mm
- Weight: 1-2.5kg
The Greater bamboo lemur is found in the Ranomafana and Adringtra forests and is patchily distributed in the forested corridor between these two national parks.
Habitat and Ecology
This species feeds almost exclusively on bamboo, particularly Giant Bamboo. They can eat the cyanogenic parts of young leaves with no ill-effects, though unlike other bamboo lemurs, they also eat mature leaves. They supplement their diet with small quantities of fruit, soil and mushrooms. They are found in primary rainforest where there is an abundance of giant bamboo.