The Facts

  • Genus: Propithecus. There are three species
  • Conservation Status: Endangered
  • Location: Madagascar


The Scoop

Great Leapers

Sifaskas are lemurs found in the forests of Madagascar. They spend most of their time in trees. A sifaka’s arms are short, and somewhat limited in their movements, but its hind limbs are large and strong, providing the power for them to leap from tree to tree. Sifakas move fast on the ground too, by using a two legged sideways hop. They can cling to even the thorniest of plants in the spiny forests where they live. Sifakas are attractively colored and their heads are multi-colored. They are named for the unique call they send echoing through Madagascar's forests, which sounds like “shif-auk”. Sifakas live in family groups of three to ten individuals and travel together about a half-mile per day. They use scents to mark their territory, but home ranges often overlap. Troop members communicate over big distances through long, deep calls.

Sifakas eat about a hundred different varieties of plants and spend their days searching for food. They eat all parts of a plant - leaves, flowers, fruit, buds and tree bark. These lemurs can eat some toxic plants, such as poison ivy. Sifakas are threatened by the destruction of forests that is taking place in Madagascar. Numerous conservation organizations are now working alongside Madagascar’s government to provide protected areas for these lemurs.


Did You Know?

  • The golden-crowned sifaka is the smallest of the sifakas. The coat is creamy white, and the name is derived from the bright golden-orange crown.
  • The verraux sifaka has long, thick, soft hair that is mostly white with a dark brown crown.
  • Coquerel's sifaka are mostly white to off-white, with maroon patches on the chest and the fronts of their thighs and arms. The skin on the face and ears is bare and black
  • The sifaka can leap up to 33 feet from tree to tree. A membrane on the inside of its arms helps it glide through the air.


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