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#Natureology Species of the Day – Silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus)

January 7, 2013

Silky-Sifaka-Propithecus-candidus (1)

Silky sifaka also nicknamed ‘angel of the forest’ due to its creamy white fur , this species of sifaka is a stunning and highly distinctive animal. It is one of the rarest & most threatened sifakas, believed to number less than 250 mature individuals and hence declared as one of the world’s 25 most critically endangered primates.

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Silky sifaka lives in groups of two to nine individuals ; smaller groups consist of an adult pair with their offspring,this diurnal lemur begins its day at dawn when it commences foraging . Mature and young leaves , fruit, flowers & seeds make up part of silky sifaka’s diet. Mating primarily takes place between November & January & the young is born in June or July. Initially, the tiny infant will cling to the mother’s belly & later will ride on her back as she travels through the forest. The silky sifaka has a very small range in north-eastern Madagascar. Although the exact limits of this species’ distribution are not clear, it extends from Marojejy in the north, to Makira & the Antainambalana River in the south . Within this restricted range, the silky sifaka occurs at low densities and is patchily distributed. It inhabitants tropical, moist forest and is most commonly encountered between 700 and 1,875 metres above sea level.


Silky sifaka is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List & is listed on Appendix I of CITES. With an estimated 250 mature individuals in the wild , the silky sifaka is one of the rarest lemurs in all of Madagascar because of habitat destruction & hunting, which are the primary threats that have brought the silky sifaka to this perilous position and continue to threaten the future survival of this species. Habitat destruction, such as slash-and-burn agriculture, logging, and mining, takes place even within so-called protected areas and , unfortunately, with such activities often comes improved infrastructure, such as roads, augmenting hunting opportunities . Sadly, unlike several sifakas, no taboos against hunting this species exist and many people in Madagascar view wild lemur meat as a delicacy.


Silky sifaka is presently found only in a few protected areas: the Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve, Marojejy National Park and, more rarely, the Anjanaharibe and Manandriana portions of the Makira Protected Area. Marojejy National Park forms part of the World Heritage Site, ‘The Rainforests of the Atsinanana’ for which the silky sifaka is a flagship species . It has been recommended that other areas of forest where the silky sifaka has been recorded should be protected . However, as mentioned above, the designation of protected areas does not always provide this Critically Endangered sifaka with the absolute protection it requires. A lack of awareness and understanding amongst local people of this sifaka’s rarity and uniqueness is one obstacle in conservation efforts and, as a result, a conservation education programme took place in 2004, with encouraging results; many local people were interested in learning more about this species and showed concern for its plight.

Silky sifaka vocalizations

Silky sifaka often watch the sky and emit loud “aerial disturbance” roars at the sight of the large Madagascar buzzard (Buteo brachypterus) and other small birds. Another more general alarm call is the loud, sneeze-like “zzuss” vocalization, which are emitted in response to terrestrial disturbances, calls from lost group members, and aggression by other group members. Acoustic analyses of the “zzuss” vocalization have shown that the call’s acoustic structure differs between individuals and by gender. “Hum” & “Mum” vocalization are contact call made when an individual is lost or not in sight.

1- “Zzuss” vocalization for general purpose alarm call

2- “Aerial disturbance” roar given in response to large birds

3- Howl Sound made when an individual gets lost

4-“Hum” vocalization is a contact call

5- “Mum” vocalization is another type of contact call

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 12, 2013 12:14 pm

    Thanks for the likes do like my FB Page 🙂


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