Greater Bamboo Lemur, Prolemur simus

The greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus) is native only to the island of Madagascar. Its other common names include the broad-nosed gentle lemur and the broad-nosed bamboo lemur. It has a small range in southwestern Madagascar, although it is thought that its range was much larger in the past.  Andringitra National Park and Ranomafana Nation Park are included in its range.

The greater bamboo lemur is the largest bamboo lemur weighing an average of 5.5 pounds. It has a body length that can reach up to 1.5 feet. It has an overall grey coat with white ear tufts. The diet of this bamboo lemur consists of the bamboo within its habitat, exclusively Cathariostachys madagascariensis. It prefers to eat the shoots, but has been known to eat the leaves and the pith, or the middle, of the bamboo plant. Occasionally, the greater bamboo lemur will consume fruits, fungi, and flowers. It is unknown how the toxic cyanide within the bamboo shoots effects this lemur, as the usual daily amount consumed would kill a human.

The greater bamboo lemur can live in groups of up to twenty-eight, highly sociable individuals. It is thought that this species of lemur is the only one to have male dominated groups. These lemurs are able to emit more than seven different vocalizations. Individuals in captivity can live to be up to seventeen years.

The greater bamboo lemur is one of the most endangered lemurs, and has been placed in The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates. It was thought that this lemur was extinct, until an isolated population was discovered in 1986. After this discovery, it was found that there were fewer than 75 individuals within southern and central eastern Madagascar. Other studies have found only 60 individuals, while others suggest that the population may be as high as 160 individuals. Only four percent of its former range is currently populated. This is due to the highly specialized diet of the greater bamboo lemur and the effects of habitat destruction it has endured. It is also in danger from hunting and mining. The IUCN has listed the greater bamboo lemur as “Critically Endangered”.

Image Caption: Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus) eating giant bamboo in its natural habitat in Madagascar. Credit: Cédric Girard-Buttoz/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)