Red ruffed lemurs are restricted to the forests of the Masoala Peninsula near Maroantsetra in northeastern Madagascar. They have been seen just east of the Antainambalana River, which divides their range from that of the black and white ruffed lemurs. The future of wild populations of the red ruffed lemur became much brighter when, in March of 1997, the 840 square mile Masoala National Park, Madagascar’s largest protected area, was established. Previous to the establishment of this park, deforestation in their range and hunting and trapping of the ruffed lemurs for food had dramatically reduced their numbers. Principal threats to red-ruffed lemur survival are currently habitat loss and hunting. Due to the ruffed lemurs large size and apparent need for intact primary forest, it is particularly susceptible to human encroachment and possibly selective cutting of the most precious hardwoods (ie rosewood) which, unfortunately has been occurring all over Madagascar since the start of the most recent political crisis. The most recent IUCN assessment places red-ruffed lemur, with its very limited range, in the endangered category (due to its presence in a major national park), while the much more widespread (but not as well protected) black and white ruffed lemur population is classified as critically endangered.
The captive worldwide population of red ruffed lemurs stands at 591 animals The population is managed by a Species Survival Plan. The DLC maintains 19 red ruffed lemurs (9 males and 10 females), which includes two breeding groups.