FAUNA

Fauna

Madagascar is a sanctuary of nature

Madagascar is the land of lemurs. Apart from one species that lives in Mayotte, all 103 living lemur species are endemic to Madagascar. Madagascar's fauna is characterised by great endemism. The reason why lemurs have developed freely on the island is that they have relatively few predators. In Madagascar, the only big carnivore is the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox).
The tenrecs are part of the faunistic characteristics of Madagascar. Tenrecs are insectivorous mammals living in rain as well as dry forests. While the lowland streaked tenrecs (Hemicentetes semispinosus) life is seriously threatened due to the destruction of their habitat, you often find the tailless tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus) during the rainy season near watercourses.  It is known for its extreme fertility. If the conditions are ideal, up to 32 young animals can be born from a single litter.


As for the rodents, the Malagasy giant rat (Hypogeomys antimena) cannot go unmentioned. It is the largest of Madagascar’s rodents. However, it has a very restricted habitat that is found in the land of the Sakalava between the Rivers Tomitsy and Tsiribihina.
New species are continually being discovered on the island. At Lake Alaotra, north of Antananarivo, a new cat-sized carnivore (salanoia durrelli) has been discovered. Its primary source of food is crustaceans and molluscs from the lake. In Ranomafana and Andasibe, a new spider species - the Darwin's bark spider (Caerostris darwini) - was discovered 2 years ago, with anchor lines spanning up to 25 metres (82 ft). This year, two mouse lemurs have been discovered (Microcebus tanosi and Microcebus marohita).

Madagascar’s amphibian fauna

What is special about the Madagascan amphibians is the fact that the roughly 200 frog species living here are all endemic.  However, according to two experts of the Madagascan amphibian world, Frank Glaw and Miguel Vences, the species, to which more than 150 frogs belong, has yet to be defined. For example, the Rhacophoridae of the Boophis genus, Hyperoliidae of the Heterixalus and Megalixalus genera, real frogs of the genus Nesomantis, Mantella, Microhylidae of the genus Scaphiophryne and toads make up, along with others, the herpetofauna of Madagscar. The best time to learn about as many frogs as possible is form December to March, during the rainy season.

The Mantella are related to the poison dart frog from South and Central America. The Mantella group is the most endangered frog species of Madagascar. In particular, there are only a few of the Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantica) and the Yellow Mantella (Mantella crocea). For example, there are no more than 2500 individual of Golden Mantellas. The Yellow Mantella is represented by only a small group of 500 individuals. Other species of this group are better represented. Mantella laevigata is often seen in the Marojejy National Park and on the Nosy Mangabe peninsula, Mantella betsileo inhabit the Lokobe nature reserve and Mantella madagascariensis can be found between the leaves of the eucalyptus trees near Vohiparara Ranomafana

Along with the Golden Mantella, one of the most beautiful and colourful frogs of Madagascar is the narrow-mouthed frog of the genus Scaphiophryne. The species Scaphiophryne gottlebei, which lives in the area of the Isalo National Park, is especially attractive. Unfortunately, it is endangered by the amphibian trade due to its varied colours. Its beauty is fatal for the frog species. The environmental organisation Pro Wildlife warns about a mass reduction of the biodiversity of Madagascar.  The prohibition of the trade of endangered amphibian or reptile species had already been discussed by the Animals Committee of the Washington Convention at the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in 2009

Anthropods

In Madagascar, the anthropods are among about 100,000 registered invertebrates. One of the most spectacular beetles that can be found in Madagascar from September to November is the Giraffe weevil (Tracelphorus giraffa). The alleged snout beetle is in fact an Attelabidae.  After mating, the female slices and rolls up a leaf. It puts one single egg inside the leaf. It prefers the Dichaetanthera cordifolia and Dichaetanthera grandifolia of the Melastomataceae family. In the spring time, the Giraffe weevils can easily be found because they live in these plants. Over 3000 species of butterflies can be found in Madagascar. The biggest butterfly of the island is the comet moth (Argema mittrei), which is endemic in Madagascar. The adult comet moths live only 6 days in order to reproduce. Nearly the entire year in the southern part of Madagascar, you can find the biggest representative of the Madagascan dovetails. It is the Pharmacophagus antenor species. This large day-active butterfly is hard to miss due to its excessive and contrasting colours. It can often be seen on the road to Berenty and Ifaty. During a hike through the Masoala National Park you are accompanied by the black and red Madagascan tree climbing crab, Malagasya antongilensis. This crab species only exists in the bay of Antongil. The antlion (Myrmeleon formificatus) lives in the dry areas of the island and is psammophilous. The larvae of the antlions build funnels to catch their prey. In September 2010, a new spider species (Caerostris darwini) was discovered in Madagascar. It is the orb-web spider, with anchor lines spanning up to 25 metres (82 ft). The webs are created over small streams and rivers, with a surface of 2,8 square metres. They are one of the biggest orb-webs worldwide. The spun silk produced by this spider species is well-known for its resistance and is regarded as tough biomaterial. In the professional journal PLoS ONE, researchers explain how the Darwin’s bark spider spans the anchor lines over the river. It fixes the silk thread to a branch or a leaf and plunges in the deeps like a Bungee Jumper. While hanging, it releases silk threads 25 metres in length that are blown to the other side by the wind and stick there. The thread is stretched – and it’s ready.

(tasch/DER STANDARD, Printausgabe, 5./6. 11. 2011)“

Birds

In contrast to the typical countries of bird watching, Madagascar is characterised by a high endemic rate of the avifauna. Among the 256 registered species, 65% are endemic to Madagascar. The best time to observe a lot of bird species is during the breeding season from September to October. As with the dodo bird at Mauritius, the elephant bird (Aepyornis maximus) became extinct several hundred years ago. The flightless bird reached a size of 3 m and a weight of 500 kg. Its eggs weighted between 9 and 12 kg. Eggshells are still found today in the South of Madagascar, where they are reconstructed and sold in souvenir shops. Despite the rising deforestation in Madagascar, new bird species are continually being discovered. The discovery of a new Madagascan wood rail (Mentocrex beankaensis) in 2011 by a team of native and American scientists in the dry forest of the Tsingys of Bemaraha was sensational. Five bird families live exclusively in Madagascar: The vangidae, the coua, the courol, the ground roller and the asities.

The Madagascan vangidae are evolutionary and are similar to the Darwin’s finches in the Galapagos Islands. The formation of the beaks is specific to the species. The sickle-billed vanga (Falculea palliata) and the hook-billed vanga (Vanga curvirostris) are native to the dry forest of the Ankarafantsika National Park and the Kirindy forest. The nuthatch vanga (Hypositta corallirostris) and the Lafresnaye’s vanga (Xenopirostris xenopirostris), as well as the chabert’s vanga can be found almost everywhere in Madagascar. The helmet vanga (Euryceros prevostii) lives in the North of Madagascar, where it is native to the rain forest of the national parks of Masoala and Marojejy. The coua is also known as the crested coua. The genus coua belongs to the cuckoo family albeit to its own Couinae subfamily. The Swiss ornithologist Dr Otto Appert focused intensively on the endemic subfamily. His unique colour photos of throat markings on young couas are very important. Four of the 26 publications by Dr Otto Appert regarding the Madagascan avifauna are dedicated to the coua. The couas are widespread throughout the country. Two species live in the dry forest of Berenty: the giant coua (Coua gigas) and the crested coua (Coua cristata). The blue coua (Coua caerulea) can easily be spotted in the rain forests of Ranomafana, Ambre Mountain, Marojejy, Masoala, Mangabe and Andasibe,. This coua is adorned with shiny blue feathers. It is the predator of all tree chameleons and geckos. The main characteristic of all coua species is a blue ring around the eyes. The Coua delalandei species, one of the ten members of this genus, has already become extinct. The ground rollers and mesites are a highlight not only for the ornithologists, but also for every traveller through Madagascar. 

The velvet asity (Philepitta castanea), the Schlegel’s asity (Philepitta schlegeli), the sunbird asity (Neodrepanis coruscans) and the yellow-bellied sunbird-asity (Neodrepanis hypoxantha) are the representatives of the lesser-known asity family. They live primarily in the rain forest. The courol family is also part of this endemic group. For example, the Madagascan courol Leptosomus and its cousin Leptosomus mayottensis, which lives in Mayotte, are among them. The Comorian variant is smaller than the Madagascan one.

The courol family is also part of this endemic group. For example, the Madagascan courol Leptosomus and its cousin Leptosomus mayottensis, which lives in Mayotte, are among them. The Comorian variant is smaller than the Madagascan one. Meanwhile, the common myna (Acridotheres tristis) has become a real plague in Madagascar. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was brought from India to the eastern regions of Madagascar in order to decimate grasshoppers. Since then, this very adaptable species has reproduced in an uncontrolled manner so that they seriously threatened the indigenous bird species due to competition for food.

Two migratory bird species winter in Madagascar: The Broad-Billed Roller (Eurystomus glaucurus) and the red flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber). Many species of waterfowl are found in Madagascar, although the Madagascar Little Grebe (Tachybaptus pelzenii) is threatened of extinction. It was already regarded as extinct, but two years ago, a small colony was discovered near the Makira forest in the Northeast of Madagascar. By taking a boat trip on the River Tsiribihina, you can get an overview of Madagascar’s water birds. For example, the purple heron (Ardea purpurea), the goliath heron (Ardea goliath) and the knob-billed duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos), the male of which is characterised by a knob at the base of the beak.

Madagascar’s avifauna includes a dozen predatory bird species. For example, hawks, buzzards, harriers and sea eagles. The yellow-billed kite (Milvus aegyptus) is widely spread and prefers open landscapes as it is a scavenger. The Madagascar harrier-hawk (Polyboroides radiatus) is native to the West of Madagascar, near the Kirindy forest and the Tsingy of Bemaraha, as well as in the Ankarana mountains and the Ankarafantsika National Park,. Wherever lemurs live, you will find the Madagascan cuckoo-hawk (Aviceda madagascariensis). Along the avenue of the Baobabs in Morondava, sooty falcons (Falco concolor) live in the baobab trees. The habitat of the Malagasy kestrel (Falco newtoni), which can be compared to the European kestrel, extends from the central highlands of Antananarivo to the Isalo mountains.

During a night walk through the Berenty private reserve, you can observe many nocturnal bird species. The Madagascan nightjar (Caprimulgus madagascariensis), the rainforest scops owl (Otus rutilus) and the Madagascar hawk owl (Ninox supercialiaris) almost always appear in the dry forest and in the Didiereaceae forest of Berenty.

Since the middle of the 20th century, the hoopoe can be increasingly found in Europe and Africa. The German proverb « Stinken wie ein Wiedehopf » (literally: That smells like a hoopoe) is derived from the secretion that it uses to protect itself against attacks by spraying a mixture of secretion and faeces at its attackers. The hoopoe prefers open landscapes and a warm and dry climate. Beside the couas, there are three cuckoo species in Madagascar: the Madagascar cuckoo (Cuculus rochii), the thick-billed cuckoo (Cuculus audeberti) and the Madagascar coucal (Centropus tulu). The first two species are brood parasites and leave their eggs to be hatched by other birds. This way of living is typical for cuckoos, but not every cuckoo is a brood parasite. 

They feed primarily on caterpillars. The red and brown plumage of the Madagascar coucal strongly differs from the colour of the others.​ In contrast to the colourful Southern American species, the plumage of the Madagascan parrots is grey, with the exception of the green grey-headed lovebird (Agapornis cana). There are only two species in Madagascar: the greater vasa parrot (Coracopsis vasa) and the lesser vasa parrot (Coracopsis nigra). They live both in the dry and rain forests. During a hike through the Madagascan national parks, you can often observe typical behaviours of the birds. Named as MSF (Mixed Species Flock), it describes the common search for food of different bird species. Such a group often consists of crested drongos (Dicrurus fortificatus), some vanga species, paradise flycatchers (Terpsiphone mutata) and some Newtonia species.

You can often observe the malachite kingfisher (Corythornis vintsioides), the African hamerkop (Scopus umbretta), the cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis) and the great white egret (Casmerodius albus) along smaller waters or in rice fields. Among the rarest of Madagascan birds are the Madagascar pygmy kingfisher (Ispidina madagascariensis), the smallest kingfisher and the Madagascar sea-eagle (Haliaetus vociferoides). As the former lives in the primary forest, its future is tied directly to that of the primary forest. The second species, with only roughly 100 breeding pairs, is among the rarest sea-eagles worldwide. It can be found in three locations in Madagascar : at the Ravelobe Lake in the Ankarafantsika National Park, on the Mitsio islands and Sakatia in Nosy Be and on the River Manambolo in the Tsingy of Bemaraha.

The following national parks or nature reserves are recommended for bird watching: Ankarafantsika National Park, Ranomafana National Park, thorn woods in Ifaty, Mantadia National Park, Marojejy and Masoala National Park and Zombitse National Park. A boat trip on the River Tsiribihina is recommended to observe the many water birds. The private bird park of Tsarasaotra in Antananarivo offers another good possibility for bird watching.

Chameleons

There are about 150 chameleons worldwide and more than 70 chameleons are endemic to Madagascar. Regarding chameleons, there are two groups: typical chameleons (Chamaeleoninae) and dwarf chameleons (Brookesiinae). They have three organs that are specially developed: Their eyes are big and they can move independently of each other. Therefore, chameleons can follow the movements of their prey without moving themselves. Their field of vision is 180° horizontal and 90° vertical, also known as the panoramic view. They can detect movement from a distance of 100 m. Chameleons also have a sort of catapult tongue, whose slingshot action is activated by a   sphincter. The prey is enclosed by the two muscle flaps that are at the end of the tongue. On the tip of the tongue, there is a gland causing salivation. This typical prey catching is shown to visitors at the chameleon farm at Marozevo.

The chameleon’s skin can change its colour. The colour change is a complex process that is influenced by changes in temperature, light, state of health and the mood of the animal. The most decisive element, however, is the psychological state of the animal, as this primarily controls the colouring. For example, a healthy chameleon shows a lighter colour. The colour of a chameleon is the result of the delicately harmonised interplay of the nervous system and pigment cells. The melanophores are responsible for the dark colouring due to their black dyes. Less melanophores provide a lighter appearance of the animal. The chromatophores are responsible for the yellow and red colouring. As the colour blue doesn’t exist in reptiles, pigments have to break the light to achieve this colour. This is the responsibility of the guanophores.

All four vegetation zones of the island are inhabited by the roughly 70 living chameleon species of Madagascar. The most colourful species are, without a doubt, the panther chameleons. They originally come from the region of Sambirano, in Ambanja and Nosy Be. They belong to the Furcifer family. While in Ambanja, as with the Furcifer pardalis, the red colouring dominates, the green colouring, however, dominates in Nosy Be. In the eastern region of Madagascar, you can find different chameleon species depending on the sea level of the habitat. The Calumma parsonii species lives in the low-lying rain forest in the southern region of Madagascar. A subspecies, Calumma parsonii cristifer, can be found in the national park of Andasibe and its surroundings. It is significantly smaller than the representative of the parrsonii chameleon of the southeast. 

 The short-horned chameleon (Calumma brevicornis) belongs to the chameleons of the eastern rain forest. It is also an inhabitant of the low-lying rain forest. Small chameleons, such as the Calumma gastrotaenia and the Calumma nasutum, can be seen in nearly every rain forest. The Calumma ambrensis species lives in the Amber Mountain National Park and is endemic to this region. In the dry West, there are other groups of chameleons. The males of the Furcifer verrocusus and Furcifer antimena species are characterised by the strongly shaped dorsal crest. They are inhabitants of the dry region. The Furcifer labordii, which is small and aggressive, can be found in the region of Morondava. The Furcifer rhinoceratus species can be observed during a night walk in the national park of Ankarafantsika.

The biggest chameleon in the world is the Furcifer oustaleti with a total length of 70 cm. It lives in the southern part of the highlands and in the region of Antsiranana. Its distinguishing mark is its highly enlarged helmet. For the people of Antsiranana, the Von Höhnel’s chameleon (Trioceros hoehnelii) is taboo.  It is forbidden to touch or kill it. Due to this cultural protection, this species has become a commensal species at the north tip of the country. The carpet chameleon (Furcifer lateralis) lives in the northern part of the highlands. Due to the destruction of their habitat and the capture of wild animals, a lot of delicate chameleon species, such as the Furcifer campani, F. minor and F. wilsii, have become endangered. The Brookesiinae are also endemic to Madagascar. The smallest chameleon in the world can be found in the Amber National Park and in the Lokobe nature reserve: the Brookesia minima. With a total length of 3 cm, this ground chameleon lives at the foot of big buttress roots on an area of only 1 m².

Snakes

With 80 species, the snake fauna of Madagascar is relatively strongly represented. The most diverse or species-rich family is the colubrids (Colubridae). In contrast, the Typhlopidae is a rather unknown family, however, it has 13 species and therefore must not be discounted. For example, Madagascar’s only sea snake (Pelamis platura) is part of this family. Madagascar’s best-known snakes are the boas. While the Sanzinia madagascariensis lives almost everywhere, you rarely find the other two representatives of this family: Acrantophis madagascariensis and Acrantophis dumerlii. Despite being members of the boa family, these snakes never reach a length of more than 4 metres. The longest one that has ever been found was 3.5 metres long. You have the best chance to observe snakes in the Ankarafantsika National Park, Lokobe nature reserve, Ambre National Park and Marojejy National Park. In Madagascar, you won’t find a single snake that is poisonous The representatives of the Madagascarophis genus have indeed poisonous fangs in the rear part of the upper jaw, but their poison is very mild. The most widespread snake species in Madagascar belongs to the colubrids.  Bibilava lateralis can be found in various habitats. It is harmless and not aggressive.

Humpback whales

During a whale watching trip in the Sainte Marie island, you can experience one of the most impressive natural spectacles worldwide.
The humpback whales have the scientific name of Megaptera novaeangliae and belong to the baleen and rorqual whales. The name Megaptera means « big wings » and refers to the disproportionally large pectoral fins. The humpback whales belong to the cetaceas and are one of the biggest representatives due to their length of 12 to 16 m and their weight of up to 40 t. Compared to the blue whales, which belongs to the largest marine mammals of 150 t, the humpback whales are moderate in size.

The front extremities of the humpback whales are reshaped into long fins. Their striking features are the knotty skin thickenings at the fins and at the head. The upper side of the massive body is black-coloured while the bottom side is rather whitish pale. While doing their jumps, the whales show their black and white tail fin. The humpback whales live in every ocean. Before the winter begins, they swim to warmer regions and come back to cooler areas in the spring. They cover a distance of up to 10,000 km through the open ocean and arrive at the Indian Ocean in September. Due to the protected bay of Atongil in Sainte Marie, Madagascar offers the best conditions for seeing these large marine mammals. During summer time, the whales build up their fat reserves. They primarily eat krill and small fish, and consume 1 to 2 t per day during their stay in the cool waters. They have developed their own techniques to catch their prey. Two members of the group submerge and produce a curtain of small bubbles. The fishe are ensnared there and the whales can easily catch them. But they can also directly attack the fish. From July to October the humpback whales come into the cold water of the Indian Ocean to give birth to their babies. The arrival of the humpback whales is cheered by the “Festival des Baleines” in Sainte Marie. The native inhabitants worship the humpback whales and regard them as a taboo. Even pointing a finger at a whale is a taboo and is considered rude. The humpback whales are called « Zanaharibe » or « the great god ».

Every year from July to October, there is an incomparable natural spectacle in the Indian Ocean. Anyone who is lucky enough to experience it once will never forget the view, the song, or the tenderness of these fascinating mammals. Whales communicate with each other through their jumps, calls and the movements of their fins. They mark their territory, warn each other and show affection in these ways. The breathtaking choreography inevitably enchants every spectator. Like all mammals, whales are air-breathers and therefore regularly have to come to the surface to fill their lungs with air. When the whale exhales, the moisture of the breathing air condenses and the whale emits a metre-high fountain with every breath.

The name of the humpback whale is derived from its humping back that is formed when the whale submerges. The song of the humpback whales during the breeding season is one of the most exceptional acoustic phenomena of the Ocean. It is assumed that only the male humpback whales sing and that they only sing during the breeding season. The often repeated songs are characterised by their identical melodies. Each season the song varies a little and over the years the melody changes completely. The human ear cannot discern the deeper frequencies of the songs. The whales can communicate with each other over thousands of kilometres. Every whale species has a characteristic style of singing. Whales don’t have any vocal chords and it has not yet been explained how the marine mammals can produce these sounds.

For humpback whales, the gestation period is about 12 months and females give birth to a baby every two years. At birth, they are about 4 to 4,5 metres long and already weigh from 700 kg to 2 t. In the following 5 to 7 months, a young whale gets 30 to 50 kg of rich and nutritious mother’s milk daily, guaranteeing fast growth. Within about 8 months, the young animal reaches double its birth size and its weight has quintupled. Humpback whales reach their sexual maturity between the age of 5 and 8 years and have a lifespan of 30 to 40 years. With a total population of 5000 to 7000 animals, the humpback whales are regarded as endangered. Along with Sainte Marie, these fascinating marine mammals can be observed in Maroantsetra, south from Anakao, and the Cap Sainte Marie from June to October.

Iguanas and lizards

The genera Oplurus and Chalarodon belong to the Iguanidae family. With the exception of one species, which is found in the Comoros, all members of the genus Oplurus are endemic to Madagascar. Therefore, they are described as Madagascan iguanas. Two species live in the national park of Ankarafantsika. Oplurus cuveiri and Oplurus cyclurus. 

You can watch some Oplurus grandidieri sunbathing on the granite rocks in Anja Park in Ambalavao. An Oplurus species has also been discovered in the Palmarium in Akanin’ny Nofy recently whose classification hasn’t been determined yet.

The Gerrhosauridae are represented by the Zonosaurus, Amphiglossus, Trachylepsis and Madascinus genera. With 73 species and a wide range of habitats, the four genera constitute one of the largest groups of the Gerrhosauridae in Madagascar.

Geckos

Both diurnal and nocturnal geckos live in Madagascar. Day-active geckos belong to the Phelsuma genus. They are endemic to the Madagascan region and belong to what is known as the Gondwana fauna. With roughly 40 species, they belong to one of the most species-rich genera. Due to their high adaptability, they are present in various habitats. Today, a lot of the day-active geckos of Madagascar are commensal species. The nocturnal geckos are represented by the endemic genera Uroplatus and Paroedura. Characteristics of the leaf-tailed geckos of the genus Uroplatus are the particularly big eyes for nocturnal animals, the triangle head and the numerous small teeth. They are masters of camouflage. They live in humid forests. The Paroedura genus is spread throughout Madagascar. The Paroedura bastardi species is the most widespread among the 19 well-known species.

Turtles

80% of the turtles of the Testudinidae family, located in Madagascar, are threatened. This means only three of a total of 14 are not threatened. The sea turtles are represented by five species that are on the Red List because they are eaten by the native people. The freshwater turtles Pelusios castanoides, Pelumedusa subrufa and Pelusios subniger are not threatened. The first two species mentioned live in the Northwest and Southwest of Madagascar, while the third species lives on the east coast. The best-known representatives of the land turtles are the radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) and the severely endangered angonoka tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora). The radiated tortoise can be found at the southern tip of Madagascar, in the thorn and prickly pear woods. The angonoka tortoise lives in the bay of Baly Northwest of the city Mahajanga. With the help of a German-Madagascan cooperation, a breeding station for endangered turtles has been established in the Ankarafantsika National Park.

Lemurs

Madagascar was called Lemuria by the biologists in the 18th century. The word lemur originates from Latin. In Roman mythology, lemur meant the souls of the dead wandering around at night.
When Madagascar separated from Africa about 150 Million years ago, there were no primates. The ancestors of the lemurs presumably developed after the drift of Madagascar from the continent.  Many archaeological discoveries of former lemur types support this statement. 49 Million years ago, a lemur species named Europolemur koenigswaldi lived in Germany and its fossils were found in Messel, Germany.  This begs the question how the ancestors of the lemurs came to Madagascar especially since lemurs are afraid of water. As stowaways on tree trunks?

Today, 110 lemur species live in Madagascar

The wide variety of lemur types is due to the fact that lemurs can live without great danger from predators in Madagascar. Among the enemies of the lemurs, there is the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) and the Madagascan cuckoo-hawk (Aviceda madagascariensis).

As primates, the lemurs are relatively organised regarding potential attackers. The indris and sifakas of the indriidae family for example have two different warning cries for an attack on the ground and an attack from the air. Today, the Homo sapiens, who eat their meat, are the greatest danger to the prosimians. The lemurs have four main characteristics: a wet nose, wool-like fur, the use of glands to mark their territory and seasonal reproduction. In most cases, the female lemur is dominant. Regarding sexual behaviour, a monogamous tendency is attributed to the indriidae family. However, the statement is disputed, in so far as the mating rights often have to be won in a bloody fight among the males every year.

The golden bamboo lemur (Hapalemur aureus) was discovered by Bernhard Meier, a German researcher, in 1985. Its golden colour distinguishes it from other bamboo lemurs. You can find it in the Ranomafana National Park. Other bamboo lemurs are the greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus), the lesser bamboo lemur (Hapalemur griseus) and the Alaotra bamboo lemur (Hapalemur alaotrensis). Lemurs are prosimians. Hapalemur means half lemur.