Crowned lemur (Eulemur coronatus)

French: Lémur À Couronne
Spanish: Lemur Coronado
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderPrimates
FamilyLemuridae
GenusEulemur (1)
SizeTotal length: 75 - 85 cm (2)
Head-body length: 34 - 36 cm (2)
Tail length: 41 - 49 cm (2)
Weight1.5 - 1.8 kg (2)

Classified as Vulnerable (VU A1cd, B1+2bc) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1) and listed as on Appendix I of CITES (3).

This is the smallest species belonging to the genus Eulemur. The crowned lemur and some closely related species have extraordinarily marked colour differences (4). Males are overall a chestnut brown colour, with grey-brown upperparts and paler underparts whereas the female’s body is grey, with creamy-white underparts (2). Its name, the crowned lemur, describes the conspicuous marking above the brow line and by the sides of the eyes (5). Both males and females bear these crowns, and in males it is a bold chestnut orange colour, with a grey-black patch on top of the head (2). The crown seen on females of this species is a smaller, chestnut brown V-shape. Both males and females of this species have beady bright orange eyes and a long, thick tail (2).

This species, like all other lemurs, is endemic to Madagascar, a large island off the coast of East Africa (5). It is restricted to the northern tip of this island (2).

Dry and semi-dry deciduous forests are preferred, but this species also occurs in some primary and secondary humid forests (2).

Crowned lemurs are primarily active in the day, though occasionally they are nocturnal (5). They live in groups of 5-15 individuals, although 5-6 is the norm. While foraging, groups may split into smaller units of 2-4 animals, maintaining contact with others using guttural grunts (2). This species feeds mainly on fruit, leaves and occasionally vertebrates and bird eggs. It forages at all levels of the canopy, though it seems to prefer the lower levels where there is less competition with Sandford’s Brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus sanfordi) (2).

Mating occurs in May and June and, after a gestation period of about 125 days, one or two young are born. Births coincide with the onset of the rainy season and therefore an abundance of food (2). Infants are initially carried on the mother’s front but as they grow heavier they are moved onto her back. Individuals reach sexual maturity after two years (5).

This species is threatened by habitat loss due to cultivation, logging, development and forest fires (2). These factors have dramatically reduced suitable habitat for the crowned lemur, and even though it occurs in four protected areas, the reserves themselves are fragmented, restricting this species’ home ranges and breeding potential (6). Research suggests that logging, grazing and hunting continues even within these reserves (6).

Protection within Madagascar’s northern reserves must be improved if the crowned lemur is to survive. International trade of this species is prohibited by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and the IUCN recommends the protection of this species as a priority case (6). Captive breeding programmes in zoos have been established and should be expanded, with a view to reintroducing individuals into protected reserves in the near future (2).

For further information on the conservation of this species and other lemurs see the Lemur Conservation Project:
http://www.lemurreserve.org

For more information on conservation in Madagascar see the Madagascar Fauna Group:
http://www.savethelemur.org/about-main.htm

Authenticated by Alison Jolly, Sussex University (26/02/05).

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2005)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Garbutt, N. (1999) Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press, East Sussex.
  3. CITES (January, 2003)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. Jolly, A. (2005) Pers. comm.
  5. Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. Mittermeier, W., Konstant, R., Nicoll, M.E. and Langrand, O. (1992) Lemurs of Madagascar: An Action Plan for their Conservation. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.