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Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Population Status

Global Population Estimate

  • Populations decreasing
    • Global estimate unknown (Murphy et al. 2017; A. Murphy, personal communication, 2018)
      • At a minimum, approximately 2,200 individuals (data from 32 sites, many more sites unsurveyed) (LaFleur et al. 2016)
        • Literature note: Conclusion of Gould and Sauther (2016) overstates the severity of this species' decline, as critiqued by Murphy et al. (2017)
    • Decline driven by habitat loss, bushmeat hunting, and illegal pet trade (LaFleur et al. 2016)
      • Sussman et al. (2006) estimated there were about 750,000 individuals estimated in 2000 and 933,000 individuals in 1985
  • Regional estimates (from Andriaholinirina et al. 2014)
    • Berenty Reserve
      • Population density
        • Gallery forest: 2.5 individuals/ha
        • Scrub and spiny forest: 1.3 individuals/ha
        • Highest density near tourist front
      • Total population in reserve
        • c. 280 individuals within the 20 ha (0.08 mi2) reserve
    • Bealoka fragment population
      • Population density
        • 1.67 individuals/ha
      • Total population
        • c. 167 individuals within the 100 ha (0.39 mi2) region
    • Cap Ste. Marie
      • Population density
        • 0.017 individuals/ha
    • Tsimanampetsotsa National Park
      • Population density
        • 0.10 individuals/ha
      • Characteristics of park population
        • Total numbers unknown
        • 2 groups inhabit the 195 ha (0.75 mi2) park
    • Beza Mahafaly Reserve
      • Population density
        • Parcel 1: 0.23 individuals/ha
      • Total population
        • 225 individuals counted in 980 ha (3.78 mi2) survey in 2006
    • See Andriaholinirina et al. 2014 for other regional details
      • Includes Anja Community Reserve, Tsaranoro forest, Andranobe village reserve, the Ambatotsirongorongo fragment, and the Petriky fragment

 

Conservation

IUCN Status

  • Endangered (2018 assessment) (LaFleur and Gould 2020)
  • Historical listing
    • 2014 - Endangered
    • 2008 - Near Threatened
    • 2000, 1996, 1990 - Vulnerable
    • 1988, 1986 - Insufficiently known

CITES Status

  • Appendix I (UNEP 2020)
    • First listed under Appendix II in 1975, then elevated to Appendix I in 1977
    • Trade of ring-tailed lemurs and their products is strictly regulated

Other

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife
    • Endangered
      • All members of Family Lemuridae were listed in 1970
  • African Convention
    • "A" rating; rated in 1969
      • Prohibits hunting, killing, capturing, or collection except for scientific or national interest purposes
      • Approval must be obtained from the highest competent authority
  •  

Needed Action

Increased Enforcement of Legal Protection

  • Laws insufficiently enforced

Expand Research

  • Conduct further population surveys
    • Needed to better determine distribution and species abundance
  • Improve research coordination
    • Better coordination between institutions with captive populations and field oriented conservation organizations needed

Threats to Survival

Persecution by Humans

  • Hunted for food
    • Dogs often used to track groups
    • Traditional local taboos against hunting lemurs are beginning to disappear
  • Captured and kept as pets

Habitat Destruction

  • Significant ongoing long-term habitat disturbance
    • Habitat loss continues at a rapid rate
    • L. catta rebounds quickly after a short term environmental disturbance, such as drought
  • Overgrazing
  • Fires
    • Slash and burn agriculture not common in species' home range
  • Tree-cutting for charcoal production

Predation

  • Canopy predators
    • Birds of prey
    • Snakes
  • Terrestrial predators
    • Domestic cats, dogs, and fossa

Endangered

Ring-tailed lemur in a tree

Ring-tailed lemurs are highly vulnerable to long-term habitat disturbances.

Small populations are often geographically isolated, which exacerbates the impacts of habitat loss and limits recovery.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.
All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Altman, Doyle and Izard (1995)
Andriaholinirina et al. (2014)
Mittermeier et al. (1992)
Sauther (2002)

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