Eulemur macaco


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Eulemur macaco
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1766)
Common Name/s:
English Black Lemur
Eulemur macaco subspecies macaco (Linnaeus, 1766)
Taxonomic Notes: Previously considered to have two subspecies: E. m. macaco, and E. m. flavifrons. After the elevation of all former Eulemur fulvus subspecies to full species status (Mittermeier et al. 2006), Eulemur macaco remained the only member of the genus divided into subspecies (E. m. macaco and E. m. flavifrons). The retention of this taxonomy is inappropriate taking into account the consistency of the morphological differences between the Black Lemur and the Blue-eyed Black Lemur. 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: Vulnerable B1ab(i,ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2011-03-08
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., Sussman, R., Thalmann, U., Wilmé, L. & Wright, P.
Reviewer/s: Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B.
Listed as Vulnerable as the species has a range well less than 20,000 km², is severely fragmented, and there is ongoing decline in extent, area and quality of habitat, as well as in the numbers of mature individuals due to levels of exploitation.
2000 Vulnerable
1996 Vulnerable
1994 Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)
1988 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to the island of Madagascar ranging from sea level up to 1,600 m. Eulemur macaco is distributed from the Mahavavy River in northern Madagascar, east to the vicinity of Ambilobe. The southern boundary of its distribution is marked by the Andranomalaza River. To the south-east E. macaco evidently hybridizes with E. flavifrons in the Manongarivo Special Reserve (Meyers et al. 1989). The Black Lemur is found in the forests of the Ampasindava Peninsula, on the islands of Nosy Be (Lokobe) and Nosy Komba, in the coastal forests northeast of Ambanja, including the peninsula leading to Nosy Faly, and has been introduced to the small island of Nosy Tanikely (Mittermeier et al. 2008, and references therein). The populations close to the E. macaco/E. flavifrons boundary differ considerably in fur colouration and pronunciation of ear tufts from those populations living further north (Schwitzer and Lork 2004) and the heads of the females are almost completely white.
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population status of the Black Lemur is not known.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: E. macaco is considered to be quite adaptable and has been reported from a wide variety of habitats that include primary forest, secondary forest, forest-agricultural mosaics, and timber plantations. The species is considered cathemeral, group size ranges from two to 15 animals, and females give birth to a single young, usually between September and November (Mittermeier et al. 2008, and references therein).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Slash-and-burn agriculture is a persistent threat to north-western Madagascar’s remaining forests, where E. macaco is also hunted for food or killed as a crop pest in some areas. Hunting with traps seems to kill females preferentially, as they tend to lead groups in travel. There is also a small, but persistent, trade in this species as pets, particularly on Nosy Be.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES. E. macaco occurs in two strict nature reserves (Lokobe and Tsaratanana) and in the Manongarivo Special Reserve. It is protected on the island of Nosy Komba where the local people consider it sacred and the animals serve as a major tourist attraction (Mittermeier et al. 2008).

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. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.1). Available at: (Accessed: 16 June 2011).

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.

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.

Schwitzer, C. and Kaumanns, W. 2005. Blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur macaco flavifrons GRAY 1867): Perspectives for in situ- and ex situ- research and conservation activities. Proceedings of the 2004 WAZA Conference. Amsterdam.

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., Randriatahina, G. H., Kaumanns, W., Hoffmeister, D. and Schwitzer, C. 2007. Habitat Utilization of Blue-eyed Black Lemurs, Eulemur macaco flavifrons (Gray, 1867), in Primary and Altered Forest Fragments. Primate Conservation 22: 79-87.

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., Sussman, R., Thalmann, U., Wilmé, L. & Wright, P. 2011. Eulemur macaco. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 17 April 2014.
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