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Bamboo lemur


CITES: Appendix I (What is CITES?)
IUCN Red List: H. alaotrensis: CR; H. aureus: EN; H. griseus, H. meridionalis, H. occidentalis: VU (What is Red List?)
Key: CR = Critically endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, VU = Vulnerable, VU = Vulnerable
(Click on species name to see IUCN Red List entry, including detailed status assessment information.)

H. occidentalis
H. occidentalis
Photo: Edward Louis

Some Hapalemur populations prefer degraded habitats that are being re-colonized by bamboo. This makes them more vulnerable to hunting and further habitat degradation due to the fact that such habitats are often near to humans (Arrigo-Nelso & Wright 2004). Conservation threats and proposed solutions are best documented for the Lake Alaotra bamboo lemur (H. alaotrensis), the most threatened of the genus (Mutschler & Tan 2003). Very little information about the conservation status or potential solutions is available for H. griseus, H. meridionalis, or H. occidentalis (Mutschler & Tan 2003).

The current total population of H. alaotrensis is estimated at a mere 3500 to 5500 individuals (Tan 2006). No population estimates for H. aureus are available (Tan 2005).

Threat: Human-Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

As is the case with most primates, the predominant threat to all species of bamboo lemur is the loss of their natural habitat (Tan 2006).

At this point, most of the original habitat of H. alaotrensis has already been converted for rice cultivation, and continuing conversion of habitat for this use is a major threat (Mutschler & Feistner 1995; Andrianandrasana et al. 2005). The species is restricted to a mere 220 km² (84.9 mi²) (Tan 2006). The principal threat to the Lake Alaotra bamboo lemur (H. alaotrensis) is the dry season burning of wetland vegetation that provides the only habitat to the species (Copsey et al. 2009; Ralainasolo et al. 2006). While there are a number of reasons for the burning of this habitat, the predominant motivation appears to be to gain access to introduced fish populations for food. However, other reasons for habitat clearance around Lake Alaotra also included the creation of rice fields, for fishing in general, for the hunting of bamboo lemurs and to show discontent with the government (Copsey et al. 2009). Indeed, the existing habitat is so fragmented that gene flow between existing populations is greatly reduced, affecting the long-term viability of the populations (Ralainasolo et al. 2006).

H. occidentalis habitats are being lost to burning to create pastureland, as well as to logging for charcoal procurement and mining activities (Mittermeier et al. 2006). Similar activities threaten the habitats of H. meridionalis, with additional forest clearance for the production of Cannibis (Mittermeier et al. 2006). H. aureus is threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture and by bamboo harvesting (Mittermeier et al. 2006).

Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

H. griseus are hunted for bushmeat in the Makira forest in northeastern Madagascar (Golden 2009). They are also kept as pets (Mittermeier et al. 2006). H. occidentalis and H. aureus are hunted in some parts of their ranges (Mittermeier et al. 2006). Poaching for food is also a threat to H. alaotrensis, as is collection of the species for pets (Feistner & Rakotoarinosy 1993; Mutschler et al. 2001; Ralainasolo et al. 2006). There are some reports of intensive collecting (Mutschler et al. 2001). There is also some evidence that some fady (taboos) against the hunting of bamboo lemurs may be fading in their power to deter hunting (Mutschler et al. 2001).





Content last modified: July 22, 2010

Written by Kurt Gron.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2010 July 22. Primate Factsheets: Bamboo lemur (Hapalemur) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2014 April 19.