Eulemur flavifrons


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Eulemur flavifrons
Species Authority: (Gray, 1867)
Common Name(s):
English Blue-eyed Black Lemur, Sclater's Black Lemur, Sclater’s Lemur
Eulemur macaco subspecies flavifrons (Gray, 1867)
Taxonomic Notes:

This species was previously considered to be a subspecies of Eulemur macaco. After the elevation of all former E. fulvus subspecies to full species status (Mittermeier et al. 2006), E. macaco remained the only member of the genus that was divided into subspecies (E. m. macaco and E. m. flavifrons). Taking into account the consistency of the morphological differences between the Black Lemur and the Blue-eyed Black Lemur, the retention of this taxonomy is inappropriate. The pairwise genetic distances between macaco and flavifrons are 68–72 bp, which is in the same range as between the former E. fulvus subspecies (29–90 bp, according to Pastorini 2000). Some earlier authors suggested a geographical cline in subspecific traits over a relatively large area of their distribution border (Meyers et al. 1989, Rabarivola et al. 1991), but more recent surveys suggest that the zone of hybridization between the two taxa is restricted to the north-eastern part of the distribution of E. flavifrons (Andrianjakarivelo 2004; Schwitzer et al. 2005, 2006). Based on these findings, and in order to restore a consistent taxonomy of Eulemur, the Blue-eyed Black Lemur was raised to full species status by Mittermeier et al. (2008, 2010).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A4cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2012-07-11
Assessor(s): Andriaholinirina, N., Baden, A., Blanco, M., Chikhi, L., Cooke, A., Davies, N., Dolch, R., Donati, G., Ganzhorn, J., Golden, C., Groeneveld, L.F., Hapke, A., Irwin, M., Johnson, S., Kappeler, P., King, T., Lewis, R., Louis, E.E., Markolf, M., Mass, V., Mittermeier, R.A., Nichols, R., Patel, E., Rabarivola, C.J., Raharivololona, B., Rajaobelina, S., Rakotoarisoa, G., Rakotomanga, B., Rakotonanahary, J., Rakotondrainibe, H., Rakotondratsimba, G., Rakotondratsimba, M., Rakotonirina, L., Ralainasolo, F.B., Ralison, J., Ramahaleo, T., Razafindraibe, H., Razafindramanana, J., Rowe, N., Salmona, J., Seiler, M., Volampeno, S., Wright, P., Youssouf, J., Zaonarivelo, J. & Zaramody, A.
Reviewer(s): Molur, S. & Schwitzer, C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Chiozza, F. & Clark, F.
Listed as Critically Endangered based on a suspected ongoing decline in the taxon’s area of occupancy (AOO) and quality of habitat (and, thus, a population size reduction) of ≥80% over three generations (or 24 years, assuming a generation length of 8 years), the causes of which have not ceased and will to a large extent not be easily reversible (see, e.g., Seiler et al. 2010); and on very high actual levels of exploitation (Andrianjakarivelo 2004 found a density of up to 570 lemur traps/km2 within certain areas of Eulemur flavifrons distribution).
2013 Critically Endangered
2000 Critically Endangered
1996 Critically Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Eulemur flavifrons has a very limited distribution in northwestern Madagascar. It occurs on the Sahamalaza Peninsula as well as in a narrow stretch of forest on the adjacent mainland, extending from around Befotaka in the south to the Manongarivo mountains in the north. The Maevarano River serves as the southern boundary of the species’ range, the Sandrakota River as the eastern boundary and parts of the Andranomalaza River as the northern boundary, although it also occurs north-east of the latter, just east to the Manongarivo Special Reserve (Andrianjakarivelo 2004, Rabarivola et al. 1991, Randriatahina and Rabarivola 2004). A zone of hybridization or intergradation with E. macaco has been identified north of the Andranomalaza River in the Manongarivo mountains and the foothills of the southern Sambirano, including part of the Manongarivo Special Reserve (Meyers et al. 1989, Rabarivola et al. 1991; but see Schwitzer and Lork 2004).

Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In E. flavifrons, mean density was calculated to be 24 indviduals/km2 in the eastern part of the species’ range (Andrianjakarivelo 2004) and 97 individuals/km2 in the Ankarafa Forest on the Sahamalaza Peninsula (Volampeno et al. 2011), but the latter figure seems to be unusually high.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Eulemur flavifrons inhabits more or less disturbed primary and secondary tropical sub-humid forests in the southern Sambirano, a transition zone between the Sambirano region in the north and the western dry deciduous forest region in the south. It occurs from sea level up to an altitude of 1,200 m (Randriatahina and Rabarivola 2004). Its home range size and utilization differs between primary and secondary forest fragments, indicating that this species is somewhat able to adapt to different types of habitat. However, larger home ranges and lower densities of E. flavifrons in secondary forest as compared to primary forest suggest that the former is less suitable habitat for the species (Schwitzer et al. 2007a). (The average home range for this species is 5.28 ha). Parasite prevalence seems to be higher in secondary than in primary forest and seems generally high when compared to data from other lemur species, suggesting that E. flavifrons on the Sahamalaza Peninsula are generally under pressure, possibly due to the high degree of fragmentation and degradation of the remaining forest habitat (Schwitzer et al. 2010). During a 12-month study, E. flavifrons consumed parts of 72 different plant species from 35 families. 52.3% of these were fruits, and 47.7% were leaves. The animals also fed on flowers, insects, insect exudate and fungi (Polowinsky and Schwitzer 2009). At certain times of the year, this species may feed on large quantities of cicadas. Eulemur flavifrons exhibits a bimodal activity pattern with peaks during the morning and evening twilight. It shows activity bouts during the day and night year-round. Nocturnal illumination and the proportion of illuminated lunar disk are positively associated with the amount of nocturnal activity. Total daily activity, as well as nocturnal activity, is higher in secondary forest than in primary forest (Schwitzer et al. 2007b). Group size ranges from 4 to 11 individuals (Andrianjakarivelo 2004, Randriatahina and Rabarivola 2004, Schwitzer 2004, Volampeno et al. 2011). Infant mortality for this species is 22.7%.

Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It is locally hunted for food, and animals are taken as pets.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The greatest threat to the Blue-eyed Black Lemur is habitat destruction due to the continuing slash-and-burn agriculture as well as selective logging, mining and “feu de colère” (Seiler et al. 2010). Logging and forest fires have increased dramatically since the onset of the political crisis in Madagascar in early 2009. The species is also hunted for food, especially by the Tsimihety in the eastern range of its distribution, where Andrianjakarivelo (2004) found a trap density of up to 570 traps/km2 within certain areas. Blue-eyed Black Lemurs are locally kept as pets.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES. It is considered one of the most threatened primates in the world, having been included on the 2008 list of the world's 25 Most Endangered Primates, drawn up every two years by the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group, the International Primatological Society, and Conservation International (Schwitzer et al. 2009). Parts of the distribution area of E. flavifrons officially received protected area status in 2007 (Parc National Sahamalaza-Iles Radama), including the Sahamalaza Peninsula and some mainland forests to the north and east (Lernould 2002, Schwitzer and Lork 2004, Schwitzer et al. 2006). The Sahamalaza Peninsula is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. As of 2010, there were about 75 individuals in captivity in Europe, North America and Madagascar (ISIS 2009; I.J. Porton pers. comm.). However, individuals tend not to do very well in captivity; obesity is a problem. (C. Schwitzer pers. comm.). 

Bibliography [top]

Andrianjakarivelo, V. 2004. Exploration de la zone en dehors de la peninsula Sahamalaza pour l’évaluation rapide de la population d’E. m. flavifrons. WCS Madagascar, Unpublished report.

IUCN. 2014. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2014).

Lernould, J.M. 2002. Un programme international de recherche et de conservation pour le lémur aux yeux turquoise (Eulemur macaco flavifrons). Lemur News 7: 30-33.

Meyers, D., Rabarivola, C. and Rumpler, Y. 1989. Distribution and conservation of Sclater’s lemur: Implications of a morphological cline. Primate Conservation 10: 77–80.

Mittermeier, R.A., Ganzhorn, J.U., Konstant, W.R., Glander, K., Tattersall, I., Groves, C.P., Rylands, A.B., Hapke, A., Ratsimbazafy, J., Mayor, M.I., Louis Jr, E.E., Rumpler, Y., Schwitzer, C. and Rasoloarison, R.M. 2008. Lemur diversity in Madagascar. Int. J. Primatol. 29: 1607-1656.

Mittermeier, R.A., Konstant, W.R., Hawkins, F., Louis Jr., E.E., Langrand, O., Ratsimbazafy, J., Rasoloarison, R., Ganzhorn, J.U., Rajaobelina, S., Tattersall, I. and Meyers, D.M. 2006. Lemurs of Madagascar, 2nd edition. Conservation International, Washington, DC.

Mittermeier, R.A., Louis Jr., E.E., Richardson, M., Schwitzer, C., Langrand, O., Rylands, A.B., Hawkins, F., Rajaobelina, S., Ratsimbazafy, J., Rasoloarison, R., Roos, C., Kappeler, P.M. and MacKinnon, J. 2010. Lemurs of Madagascar. 3rd edition. Conservation International, Arlington, VA.

Pastorini, J. 2000. Molecular Systematics of Lemurs. Universität Zürich.

Polowinsky, S.Y. and Schwitzer, C. 2009. Nutritional ecology of the blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons): integrating in situ and ex situ research to assist the conservation of a critically endangered species. In: Clauss, M., Fidgett, A.L., Hatt, J.M., Huisman, T., Hummel, J., Janssen, G., Nijboer, J. and Plowman, A. (eds), Zoo Animal Nutrition IV, pp. 169-178. Filander Verlag, Fürth.

Rabarivola, C., Meyers, D. and Rumpler, Y. 1991. Distribution and morphological characters of the intermediate forms between the black lemur (Eulemur macaco macaco) and Sclater’s lemur (E. m. flavifrons. Primates 32: 269–273.

Randriatahina, G. H. and Rabarivola, J. C. 2004. Inventaire des lémuriens dans la partie nord-ouest de Madagascar et distribution d'Eulemur macaco flavifrons. Lemur News 9: 7–9.

Schwitzer, C. 2004. Sahamalaza field trip 28.09.-19.11.2003. In: Köln: Zoologischer Garten Köln (ed.), Report to the board of AEECL.

Schwitzer, C. and Lork, A. 2004. Projet Sahamalaza – Iles Radama: Ein internationales Schutzprojekt für den Sclater’s Maki (Eulemur macaco flavifrons GRAY, 1867). Zeitschrift des Kölner Zoo 47(2): 75-84.

Schwitzer, C., Schwitzer, N., Randriatahina, G.H. and Kaumanns, W. 2005. Inventory of the Eulemur macaco flavifrons population in the Sahamalaza protected area, northwestern Madagascar, with notes on an unusual color variant of E. macaco. Göttinger Freilandtage ‘Primate Diversity - Past, Present and Future' Primate Report Special Issue(72-1): 39-40.

Schwitzer, C., Schwitzer, N., Randriatahina, G.H., Rabarivola, C. and Kaumanns, W. 2006. "Programme Sahamalaza": New perspectives for the in situ and ex situ study and conservation of the blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur macaco flavifrons) in a fragmented habitat. In: Schwitzer, C., Brandt, S., Ramilijaona, O., Rakotomalala Razanahoera, M., Ackermand, D., Razakamanana, T., and Ganzhorn, J.U. (eds), Proceedings of the German-Malagasy Research Cooperation in Life and Earth Sciences, pp. 135–149. Concept Verlag, Berlin.

Schwitzer, N., Clough, D., Zahner, H., Kaumanns, W., Kappeler, P. and Schwitzer, C. 2010. Parasite prevalence in blue-eyed black lemurs (Eulemur flavifrons) in differently degraded forest fragments. Endangered Species Research 12: 215-225.

Schwitzer, N., Kaumanns, W., Seitz, P.C. and Schwitzer, C. 2007b. Cathemeral activity patterns of the blue-eyed black lemur Eulemur macaco flavifrons in intact and degraded forest fragments. Endangered Species Research 3: 239-247.

Schwitzer, N., Randriatahina, G.H., Kaumanns, W., Hoffmeister, D. and Schwitzer, C. 2007a. Habitat utilization of blue-eyed black lemurs, Eulemur macaco flavifrons (Gray, 1867), in primary and altered forest fragments. Primate Conservation 22: 79-87.

Seiler, M., Randriatahina, G.H., and Schwitzer, C. 2010. Ongoing threats to lemurs and their habitat inside the Sahamalaza - Iles Radama National Park. Lemur News 15: 7–9 15: 7-9.

Volampeno M.S.N., Masters J.C. and Downs C.T. 2011. A Population Estimate of Blue-Eyed Black Lemurs in Ankarafa Forest, Sahamalaza-Iles Radama National Park, Madagascar. Folia Primatologica 81: 305-314.

Citation: Andriaholinirina, N., Baden, A., Blanco, M., Chikhi, L., Cooke, A., Davies, N., Dolch, R., Donati, G., Ganzhorn, J., Golden, C., Groeneveld, L.F., Hapke, A., Irwin, M., Johnson, S., Kappeler, P., King, T., Lewis, R., Louis, E.E., Markolf, M., Mass, V., Mittermeier, R.A., Nichols, R., Patel, E., Rabarivola, C.J., Raharivololona, B., Rajaobelina, S., Rakotoarisoa, G., Rakotomanga, B., Rakotonanahary, J., Rakotondrainibe, H., Rakotondratsimba, G., Rakotondratsimba, M., Rakotonirina, L., Ralainasolo, F.B., Ralison, J., Ramahaleo, T., Razafindraibe, H., Razafindramanana, J., Rowe, N., Salmona, J., Seiler, M., Volampeno, S., Wright, P., Youssouf, J., Zaonarivelo, J. & Zaramody, A. 2014. Eulemur flavifrons. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 05 September 2015.
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