Unlike most species of lemur which are female dominant, collared lemurs are co-dominant: there does not appear to be a clear dominance hierarchy within groups.
Collared lemurs are endangered in Madagascar. Primary threats include bushmeat hunting, capture for the local pet trade, and habitat loss due to slash-and-burn agriculture (required for traditional rice farming) and burning hardwood trees to produce charcoal. Sadly, the booming charcoal business is contributing to rapid deforestation in Madagascar, endangering many species of lemur across the island.
In response, the DLC’s SAVA conservation program in Madagascar distributes fuel-efficient “Rocket Stoves” to local Malagasy families. These stoves can reduce wood and charcoal use by 50%, which reduces pressure on forest resources and slows forest destruction – and helps not only lemurs but also the Malagasy people: The stoves, in addition to being more fuel efficient, improve women’s and children’s respiratory health through improved kitchen air quality.
The adult collared lemur can be about the size of a large house cat, weighing about 5.7 lbs (2.6kg) with a body length of 16 inches (41cm), with a tail as long as 22 inches (55cm). It can live 20-25 years.
Males are brownish-gray with a dark stripe down the back, a dark tail and tail tip, and a lighter underside. Females have a reddish to brown coat and a gray face. Both sexes have a distinct beard that is reddish-brown in females and cream to reddish-brown in males. Collared lemurs are distinguished from the very similar white-collared lemurs by a slightly darker beard.
Collared lemurs have a diet mostly consisting of fruit, young leaves, and flowers. Due to their generalist feeding patterns and their social system consisting of multiple adult males and females, groups of brown lemurs are easily maintained in captivity and thrive on just a basic diet of primate chow and fruit. Around 60% of their diet consists of fruit and they are active both day and night, mostly at dawn and dusk; however, little is known about the feeding ecology of collared lemurs.
Collared lemurs are seasonal breeders, with mating season occurring between June-July. Gestation last approximately 120 days, and infants are born between September and November. One offspring a year is typical. Collared lemurs reach sexual maturity at about 1 year old.
Collared lemurs are sociable, living in permanent groups of 3 – 12 individuals. Groups as large as 29 have been observed. Unlike many species of lemur which are female dominant, there does not appear to be a clear dominance hierarchy within groups. Groups of brown lemurs are very cohesive, and stay closely together as they move through the forest feeding on leaves and fruit. The animals are usually found high in the canopy and they rarely descend to the ground. There may be a significant overlap (up to 20%) of the ranges of neighboring groups, which occasionally leads to hostile (but not violent) territorial encounters. Home range boundaries are probably maintained by vocalizations. Their home range tends to span 17 – 50 acres (7 – 20 ha), usually in the scattered forest fragments of the high plateaus in southeastern Madagascar, from the Mananara River near Vangaindrano south to Fort-Dauphin.
The collared lemur is found in lowland and mid-altitude primary and secondary rainforest in a small range in the southeastern tip of Madagascar. This lemur ranges from the Mananara river south to the area north of Tolagnaro. The western limits of its range have yet to be firmly established, and on the north it borders populations of Eulemur fulvus albocollaris with which it might interbreed.
Collared lemurs are found in only one protected area in Madagascar. They are classified as ENDANGERED by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Primary threats include bushmeat hunting, capture for the local pet trade, and habitat loss due to slash-and-burn agriculture (required for traditional rice farming) and burning hardwood trees to produce charcoal.