Jan 20

A captive-born black-and-white ruffed lemur female has successfully bred with a wild male for the first time – 13 years after captive-born black-and-white ruffed lemurs were first released into the wild.

Described as a milestone for lemur conservation, the Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG) released the female lemur into the Betampona Natural Reserve, eastern Madagascar, resulting in a pairing that produced twins last October. 

Black-and-white ruffed lemur photo

Until now, captive breeding has had limited success as captive-born animals typically have difficulty adapting to a wild life.

A Critically Endangered species

The black-and-white ruffed lemur is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It is threatened by deforestation, including from slash-and-burn agriculture, logging and mining. It tends to be the first lemur to disappear when human activity encroaches upon its habitat.

Its large size and daytime activity pattern also makes the black-and-white ruffed lemur an attractive hunting target, and it is among the most heavily hunted of all Madagascar’s lemurs.

Black-and-white ruffed lemur photo

The black-and-white ruffed lemur inhabits primary and secondary forest up to elevations of 1,350 metres in eastern Madagascar.

Isolated populations

Surrounded by rice fields, Betampona Natural Reserve’s lemur population is isolated from other groups. Conservationists hope that by introducing captive-born lemurs into the wild, they can retain genetically healthy populations.

“Without this project, the Betampona population of ruffed lemurs was calculated to become extinct from the negative consequences of inbreeding within 100 years or less,” explains MFG chief of staff, Dr. Eva Sargent.

Black-and-white ruffed lemur photo

The black-and-white ruffed lemur acts as a key pollinator for the Traveller’s tree, and is in fact thought to be the largest pollinator in the world.


Watch a video of black-and-white ruffed lemurs playing in trees on ARKive.

To read more about this story, see the Mongabay.com article.

Alex Royan, ARKive Species Text Author