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Red ruffed lemur

Varecia rubra


The red ruffed lemur is one of the largest species of lemur.

Red ruffed lemurs’ live on the east coast of Madagascar, in almost overlapping ranges with its sister species the black and white ruffed lemur. Despite living in separate ranges, and being separate species the two can understand each other’s calls and communications.

The two species are the only members of their genus Varecia and are both critically endangered. Lemurs are part of a group of the most basal living primates, and have evolved independently on Madagascar for 50-60 million years.

The red ruffed lemur lives in small matriarchal (female lead) groups of 2-16, but group sizes of 32 have been recorded. Because of its large size, it has a larger range size, and is therefore more acutely under threat from habitat destruction by logging, burning of habitat, cyclones and mining. And again, because of its size, it is prone to the threat of humans hunting it for food; as well as for capture into the illegal pet trade.

  • Order: Primates
  • Family: Lemuridae
  • Population: Unknown
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 53cm
  • Weight: 3.3-3.6kg

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 11.31 (?)
ED Score: 12.36 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


The primary forests of the Masoala Peninsula and the region immediately north of the bay of Antongil in northeastern Madagascar.

Habitat and Ecology

Red ruffed lemurs’ inhabit primary and secondary tropical moist lowland forest, up to 1200m above sea level. They are primarily fruit eaters, especially figs, but they do also eat pollen, nectar, leaves and shoots.

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This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Extreme weather Crops Hunting Logging

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
Available at:

Download the Survival Blueprint for this species below. Each survival blueprint is compiled by an EDGE Fellow working on the species with input from collaborators and stakeholders. The Survival Blueprint provides a status review (information on the distribution, protection status, habitat & ecology, threat and stakeholder analysis) and more information on the action programme listed here.  

Vision (30-50 years)

Varecia rubra (Red-ruffed-lemur) escaped from extinction.

Goal (5-10 years)

Population decline of Red ruffed lemur is prevented


Habitat restoration Critical
Set up long-term population and ecological monitoring Critical
Strengthen stakeholder’s capacity and skills Critical
Control human population growth surrounding the park Critical
Increase raising awareness efforts Critical
Lobbying for Law enforcement Critical
Alleviate local community poverty High

Rita Iholiharinala Ratsisetraina

  • Project name: Assessing the impacts of forest degradation on the population of Varecia rubra, Masoala National Park
  • Project site: Masoala National Park, Madagascar
  • Active: 2017 - 2019
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