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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I is for Indri

The Indri (Indri indri) is a species of lemur from Madagascar.  The name indri comes from the Malagasy word "Indri," which local people used to yell while pointing out the animal to Europeans.  It means "there it is."  The indri is the largest of living lemurs at a whopping 6-10 kg (13-22lbs).  They are also the only species of lemur to have no tail.  It is these two factors that led the native  people to believe the animals resemble their sacred ancestors.  This protects the lemurs from direct hunting, but habitat loss from logging and agriculture still play a big role in their conservation.


The indri's legs are much more powerful than their arms, allowing them to leap through the forest canopy up to 10 m (30 feet)!  The hands and feet are large and adapted to climbing through the trees, each possessing an opposable digit to grasp tree branches and food. 


Indri rarely descend to the ground.  When they do, they leap across it on their two hind legs, holding their arms up for balance.  Indri are social animals, living in groups of 2-5 individuals, run by the dominant female.  The females are slightly larger in size due to their need to feed themselves an their young. 


Indri have a unique call which they use to unite groups, express territoriality, and convey information about age, sex and reproductive ability.


The indri is a very endangered species in Madagascar.  They live close to the coast where the forest is extremely fragmented.  Some segments are so small they are incapable of supporting viable populations.  There is no successful breeding programs in captivity.  This means that if the indri is to be saved, habitat conservation is of the utmost importance.