The Indri is a large species of Lemur found only on the secluded island of Madagascar. The Indri evolved in the same way as every other Lemur, from smaller individuals that came to the island from Africa around 50 million years ago.
Indri Anatomy and Appearance
Indris are the largest of all living Lemur species today. with some individuals reaching nearly a meter in height. The average Indri however, tends to be between 60 and 80 cm tall with a tail of just 5cm (all other Lemurs have tails that are around the same length as their bodies). The Indri has a dense coat of black silky fur with a varying number of white patches depending on the geographic region.
Indri Distribution and Habitat
Like all Lemurs, the Indri is found only on the island of Madagascar in the Eastern lowland jungle and tropical forests. Lemurs are arboreal animals meaning that they spend the majority of their lives, eating, sleeping and mating high up in the trees.
Indri Behaviour and Lifestyle
The Indri is a sociable animal, living in small family units of between 2 - 6 individuals, that consist of a male and female pair with their young. Lemurs are unique among primates as it is the females who are the dominant ones, meaning that they get to feed first while the males defend their territory. Indris communicate through a series of eerie wailing calls both to unite families and also to mark their territory, that can be heard up to 2km away.
Indri Reproduction and Life Cycles
Females Indris don't tend to reach sexual maturity until they are 8 or 9 years old, when they are able to have one infant every two or three years. The babies are usually born in May or June after a gestation period of between 4 and 5 months. The Indri infant clings onto the belly of it's mother for the first few months of life, when it then moves round onto her back. By the time Indri babies are around 8 months old, they are independent of their mother but generally remain with her until the age of 2 or 3.
Indri Diet and Prey
The Indri is a herbivorous animal, unlike many other primates that will munch on almost everything in sight. Indris are diurnal animals meaning that they are most active during the day and this is when they hunt for food, both in the trees and on the ground. Females get first pickings and are often found foraging for very new leaves.
Indri Predators and Threats
Living high up in the trees means that the Indri is safe from many ground-dwelling predators, however, there are a number of animals that have no problem getting up to the Indri's height. The native Cat-like Fossa is the main predator of the Indri and is an incredibly agile and primarily tree-dwelling mammal that has evolved to catch one thing, Lemurs. Other predators of the Indri include large Birds Of Prey such as Hawks, and reptiles including Snakes, all of which the Indri are thought have to have different danger signals for.
Indri Conservation Status and Life Today
Although the exact number of Indri inhabiting Madagascar today is unknown, there are thought to only be up to 10,000 individuals left in the wild. Other estimates are more concerning claiming that there may be as few as 1,000 Indri remaining, but they are now protected with the listing as an endangered species.