Golden-crowned sifaka (Propithecus tattersalli)

Also known as: Tattersall's sifaka
Spanish: Indris Sifaca
GenusPropithecus (1)
SizeHead-body length: 87 - 94 cm (2)
Tail length: 42 - 47 cm (2)
Weight3.5 kg (2)

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List 2002 (1), and listed on Appendix I of CITES (1).

The golden-crowned sifaka is the smallest of the sifakas (2), and was first described in 1988 (5). The coat is creamy white, and the common name is derived from the bright golden-orange crown; the shoulders, upper arms, chest and rump may also be tinged with this colour (2). The hairless, black face is drawn into a pronounced muzzle and the eyes are a bright orange colour (2). White hair frames the face and the ears are tufted (4), giving the face an almost triangular appearance (2). Sifakas such as the golden-crowned sifaka are adapted for upright leaping from tree to tree; their legs are powerful and considerably longer than the arms (3).

Endemic to Madagascar, the golden-crowned sifaka is found only in a small area in the northeast of the country. The species is found in fragments of forest centred on the village of Antanimarazoko; the entire range is just over 88,000 hectares, about half of which is forest (7).

Inhabits dry, deciduous or semi - evergreen remnant forest patches (4); all known populations are found below 700 metres above sea level (7).

These sifakas live in groups of around five to six individuals, usually with two or more adults from each sex, although typically only one female will breed each year (2). Mating occurs towards the end of January and females give birth to one offspring a year, in late June (4), which is then carried by its mother through the trees (2). Females are dominant within the group, and social bonds are enhanced through grooming, which is carried out using the lower teeth as a comb (4).

Golden-crowned sifakas feed on a variety of un-ripe fruit, seeds, shoots and leaves; bark may also be eaten, particularly in the dry season (2).

Of all lemurs, the golden-crowned sifaka has one of the most limited distributions (3). Vast tracts of their habitat have been cleared and the isolated patches of forest that remain are under pressure from logging and bush fires (2). The species is also hunted in some areas (2), and the recent discovery of gold in the region has resulted in an influx of miners, causing further habitat loss and the hunting of lemurs for food (4).

Recent studies have shown that these sifakas are fairly abundant in some of the remaining forest fragments within their range, and estimates put the population at between 6,200 and 10,000 individuals (7). Based on these figures it has been suggested that the World Conservation Union (IUCN) should reclassify the species as Endangered (7). At present, the captive population of golden-crowned sifakas numbers just three, at the Duke University Primate Centre (4). The species does not currently occur within a protected area (2), but is listed under Class A of the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, whereby hunting, killing, capture or collection of individuals is forbidden unless for scientific purposes and with permission (6). A network of protected areas has been proposed to conserve the remaining forest fragments in which the golden-crowned sifaka is found (7).

For further information on the conservation of this species see:



For detailed information on Madagascar's mammals see:


Authenticated (2/12/02) by Nick Garbutt.

  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2007)
  2. Garbutt, N. (1999) Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press, Sussex.
  3. Animal Info (January, 2002)
  4. The Duke University Primate Centre (August, 2007)
  5. Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, London.
  6. Vargas, A., Jiménez, I., Palomares, F. and Jesús Palacios, M. (2002) Distribution, status and conservation needs of the golden-crowned sifaka, Propithecus tattersali. Biological Conservation, 108: 325 - 334.
  7. African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (January, 2002)