Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi ), or the white sifaka, is a medium-sized primate in one of the lemur families, the Indriidae. It lives in Madagascar and can be found in a variety of habitats from rainforest to western Madagascar dry deciduous forests and dry and spiny forests. Its fur is thick and silky and generally white with brown on the sides, top of the head, and on the arms. Like all sifakas, it has a long tail that it uses as a balance when leaping from tree to tree. However, its body is so highly adapted to an arboreal existence, on the ground its only means of locomotion is hopping. The species lives in small troops which forage for food.
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example, foliage, for the main component of its die...
In zoology, a folivore is a herbivore that specializes in eating leaves. Mature leaves contain a high proportion of hard-to-digest cellulose, less ...
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some anima...
Jumping (saltation) can be distinguished from running, galloping, and other gaits where the entire body is temporarily airborne by the relatively l...
Zoochory animals are those that can disperse plant seeds in several ways. Seeds can be transported on the outside of vertebrate animals (mostly mam...
Island endemic animals are found in a single defined geographic location, such as an island. Animals or organisms that are indigenous to a place ar...
Scansorial animals are those that are adapted to or specialized for climbing. Many animals climb not only in tress but also in other habitats, such...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
A dominance hierarchy (formerly and colloquially called a pecking order) is a type of social hierarchy that arises when members of animal social gr...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
The Verreaux's sifaka is an easily recognizable lemur with a rather long, thick, soft and white fur, contrasting with a dark brown head crown, descending down the back of the neck. Meanwhile, the coat of this animal is considerably thinner on the chest, belly and underarms, exposing the grey colored skin. Males of this species are identified by the characteristic faint reddish-brown chest patch as a result of having a gland, situated at the base of their throat. However, the most distinguishing feature of this unique primate is its unusual way of moving. When in trees, the Verreaux's sifaka takes long leaps between tree trunks. When on the ground, the animal moves by leaping forwards while holding its arms high. The Verreaux's sifaka is the only lemur with partly webbed feet.
Verreaux's sifakas are native and endemic exclusively to Madagascar, where they occur in the south-western part of the island, from Tsiribihina River in central western Madagascar southwards to the Andohahela region. These lemurs inhabit a wide variety of habitats, from tropical dry lowland forests to montane forests. Population in the south-eastern part of their range is found in lowland, humid rainforest.
Verreaux's sifakas live in a social hierarchy system, dominated by females. These primates form groups of 2 - 13 individuals, typically made up of 5 - 7 mature females, 2 - 3 mature males and a few infants and juveniles. Males are known to for all-male units, composed of one male with a dark chest, mating with a group of females as well as 1 - 2 subordinate or so-called clean-chested males, exhibiting monochromatically colored chests. Group members generally live in peace and don't tend to show aggressive behavior, except for the breeding season. As diurnal creatures, the Verreaux's sifakas are active in the morning and late afternoon. Most of their active time is spent feeding, during which they prefer sunbathing high among tree branches of around 13 meters above the ground. These lemurs sleep from sunset to sunrise and their sleeping sites are located in the forest canopy.
Verreaux’s sifakas have a polygynous mating system, where a dominant male mates with a group of females. During the breeding season, subordinate males often challenge the alpha male, which leads to frequent fights. Breeding season in this species lasts between January and March. Females usually yield only a single infant per year, which is born in June-September, after a gestation period of 130 - 141. The newborn baby is carried close to the abdomen and chest of its mother until 2 - 3 months old, after which the infant begins riding on its mother's back for another 3 months. Then, at about 6 months old, young lemur in completely weaned and independent. At this point, females continue living with their natal group, whereas males may either remain with the group or disperse to join another one. Verreaux’s sifakas gain the adult size at 21 months old. The age of sexual maturity is 2.5 years old.
The population of this species has undergone a sharp decline during the last 30 years, as a result of habitat destruction for timber, firewood and charcoal. Additionally, in some parts of its range, the Verreaux’s sifaka is hunted by locals for food. There have been known cases of locals taking money or supplies in exchange for telling hunters the location of Verreaux’s sifaka. These primates are also captured to be sold as pets.
No estimate of population size is available for Verreaux’s sifaka. However, this species’ numbers are decreasing today, and the animal is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List.
On one hand, the Verreaux’s sifakas benefit the local ecosystem by consuming various plants and thus acting as key seed dispersers. On the other hand, these lemurs are a prey species for numerous predators of their range.