Tattersall’s sifaka also known as the golden-crowned sifaka was first scientifically described in 1988, and is considered one of the rarest of Madagascar’s lemurs.
Its common name derives from the sound it makes when calling (“shee-fak”). It is one of the smallest sifakas, the Propithecus genus, made up of 9 extant species. Lemurs, species in the superfamily Lumuroidea, have evolved independently on the island of Madagascar for 50-60 million years, and are considered a group of the most basal living primates. This species has one of the smallest ranges and documented population sizes of any lemur. It is confined to a number of isolated forest fragments which are under pressure from slash-and-burn agriculture and logging. The discovery and subsequent mining of gold in the region has led to further habitat loss, and an influx of itinerant miners who hunt the animals for food, unlike the local people who consider the animal fady (taboo). No part of this species’ range is protected.
- Order: Primates
- Family: Indriidae
- Population: 6,000-10,000
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 45-55cm
- Weight: 3-7kg
Golden-crowned sifakas’ have an extremely limited distribution. It is confined to a number of discontinuous forest fragments between the Manambato and Loky Rivers in northeast Madagascar. The town of Daraina lies at the centre of this range. The entire range is just over 88,000 hectares, about half of which is forest.
Habitat and Ecology
They inhabit dry deciduous and semi-evergreen forest fragments, and are not known to occur at altitudes above 700m.