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.