Varecia variegata


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Varecia variegata
Species Authority: (Kerr, 1792)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name/s:
English Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur, Ruffed Lemur
French Maki Vari, Lémur Vari
Spanish Lemur De Collar, Lemur De Gola, Lemur De Gorguera
Taxonomic Notes: There are three recognized subspecies: the nominate form; V. v. editorum; and V. v. subcincta.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A2cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: Andrainarivo, C., Andriaholinirina, V.N., Feistner, A., Felix, T., Ganzhorn, J., Garbutt, N., Golden, C., Konstant, B., Louis Jr., E., Meyers, D., Mittermeier, R.A., Perieras, A., Princee, F., Rabarivola, J.C., Rakotosamimanana, B., Rasamimanana, H., Ratsimbazafy, J., Raveloarinoro, G., Razafimanantsoa, A., Rumpler, Y., Schwitzer, C., Thalmann, U., Wilmé, L. & Wright, P.
Reviewer/s: Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
Listed as Critically Endangered as the species is believed to have undergone a decline of 80% over a period of 27 years, due primarily to a decline in area and quality of habitat within the known range of the species and due to levels of exploitation.
1996 Endangered
1994 Endangered (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Endangered (IUCN 1990)
1990 Endangered (IUCN 1990)
1988 Indeterminate (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Indeterminate (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species inhabits lowland to mid-altitude rain forests (sea level to 1,350 m) in eastern Madagascar. There are three subspecies:

The subspecies V. v. subcincta is assumed to represent the northernmost subspecies, the northern limit of its range being the Antainambalana River (east of which occurs the Red Ruffed Lemur). Its range extends southwards to the Anova River, including part of Makira, Mananara-Nord, Atialanankorendrina, and Marotandrano. This subspecies was introduced to the island of Nosy Mangabe in the Bay of Antongil back in the 1930s and still occurs there (Kuhn 1972). The distribution of this lemur is very patchy throughout its range, except for Nosy Mangabe, where it lives at a relatively high density (Morland 1991).

The nominate subspecies V. v. variegata occurs south of the Anove River, from about Ambatovaky south to about Betampona and Zahamena National Park (including Ambatovaky), although the southern limit is not yet clearly defined.

The subspecies V. v. editorum is the southernmost subspecies and is known with certainty only from Mantadia southwards to Manombo Special Reserve. According to Groves (2001), the ranges of V. v. editorum and V. v. variegata overlap, and intermediate forms exist. The form occurring in Mangerivola Special Reserve is unknown.
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Population densities recorded range from 0.4-2.5/km² in Manombo, to 10-15 individuals/km² in Antanamalaza, and 29-43 individuals/km² on Nosy Mangabe (Vasey 2003).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is very patchily distributed in lowland to mid-altitude rain forests. Black-and-white Ruffed Lemurs maintain large home ranges consisting of primary forest with tall trees. They are almost exclusively frugivorous, and as they are very selective feeders, this makes them especially susceptible to disturbance (e.g. see White et al. 1995, Ratsimbazafy 2002). Group size and structure appear to vary considerably between study sites. Females usually give birth to two to three young, which are left in a nest when young and afterwards carried in the mother?s mouth. Ruffed lemurs are probably the only primates that build nests exclusively for the birth and the first days of rearing infants (Mittermeier et al. 2008, and references therein).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The principal threat to its survival is habitat loss due to slash-and-burn agriculture, logging and mining. They are large bodied and diurnal, and therefore also among the most heavily hunted of all lemur species. The seasonality of their vocalizations (due to increased food availability) has been tied to increased levels of hunting (Ratsimbazafy 2002; Vasey 2003). In Makira, where they are one of the more expensive and desired meats, hunting is largely unsustainable (Golden 2005). It is one of the first lemurs to disappear where humans encroach upon rain forest habitats.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES.

V. v. subcincta is recorded from Mananara-Nord National Park and Nosy Mangabe Special Reserve. V. v. variegata is recorded from Zahamena National Park, and two nature reserves (Betampona and Zahamena) and from Ambatovaky and Marotandrano Special Reserves. V. v. editorum is recorded from Mantadia National Park, Ranomafana National Park and Manombo Special Reserve. Now extirpated from Analamazaotra Special Reserve, and no longer reported from Andringitra National Park.

Manongarivo, to which it is not possible to assign a subspecies, is a Special Reserve. Fandriana (in the range of V. v. editorum) is in the process of becoming a national park. Unprotected forests such as Tolodoina, Vatovavy, Atialanankorendrina and Makira should be included in protected areas.

In November 1997, V. v. editorum born and raised in US zoological institutions were returned to Madagascar and released in the Betampona Reserve (Britt et al. 2003). The study of this reintroduction effort is ongoing. An education campaign against hunting, using this species as a flagship, is recommended.

Bibliography [top]

Britt, A., Iambana, B. R., Welch, C. R. and Katz, A. S. 2003. Restocking of Varecia variegata variegata in the Réserve Naturelle Intégrale de Betampona. In: S. M. Goodman and J. P. Benstead (eds), The Natural History of Madagascar, pp. 1545?1551. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.

Golden, C. D. 2005. Eaten to endangerment: Mammal hunting and the bushmeat trade in Madagascar?s Makira Forest. Undergraduate Thesis, Harvard University.

Groves, C. P. 2001. Primate taxonomy. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Kuhn, H. J. 1972. Die Geschichte der Säugetiere Madagaskars. Zeitschrift des Kölner Zoo 15(1): 28?42.

Lehman, S. M., Ratsibazafy, J., Rajaonson, A. and Day, S. 2005. Decline of Propithecus diadema edwardsi and Varecia variegata variegata (Primates: Lemuridae) in south-east Madagascar. Oryx 40: 108-111.

Mittermeier, R., Louis, E., Hawkins, F., Langrand, O., Ganzhorn, J., Konstant, W., Rasoloarison, R., Rajaobelina, S. and Richardson, M. 2008. Lemurs of Madagascar, 3rd edition. Conservation International.

Morland, H. S. 1991. Social organization and ecology of black and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata variegata) in lowland rain forest, Nosy Mangabe, Madagascar. Ph.D. Thesis, Yale University.

Ratsimbazafy, J. 2002. On the brink of extinction and the process of recovery: responses of black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata variegata) to disturbance in Manombo Forest, Madagascar. Ph.D. Thesis, Stony Brook University.

Vasey, N. 2003. Varecia, ruffed lemurs. In: S. M. Goodman andJ. P. Benstead (ed.), The Natural History of Madagascar, pp. 1332-1336. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.

White, F. J., Overdorff, D. J., Balko, E. A. and Wright, P. C. 1995. Distribution of ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata) in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. Folia Primatologica 64: 124?131.

Citation: Andrainarivo, C., Andriaholinirina, V.N., Feistner, A., Felix, T., Ganzhorn, J., Garbutt, N., Golden, C., Konstant, B., Louis Jr., E., Meyers, D., Mittermeier, R.A., Perieras, A., Princee, F., Rabarivola, J.C., Rakotosamimanana, B., Rasamimanana, H., Ratsimbazafy, J., Raveloarinoro, G., Razafimanantsoa, A., Rumpler, Y., Schwitzer, C., Thalmann, U., Wilmé, L. & Wright, P. 2008. Varecia variegata. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 24 April 2014.
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