Indri indri

Critically Endangered

Critically Endangered

13 to 20 pounds (6 to 9.5 kg)

15 to 20 years




Gestation: 4 to 5 months
Young: 1

Deforestation for Agriculture and Illegal Logging
Being Hunted as a Food Source


Indris possess a laryngeal air sac they can inflate while calling, which helps the sound to carry in the forest. They sing beautiful, haunting songs that can last about three minutes and be heard more than a mile away.

Indris are excellent jumpers, able to take long leaps of up to 32 feet (10 meters) when moving in trees of the forest canopy.

These primates have opposable big toes on their feet, which gives them a great grip on tree branches and even allows them to hang upside down with their feet.

A well-developed sense of smell helps these lemurs detect territory markings from other lemurs, which helps the groups avoid conflict.


Distinctive for its rounded, almost teddy-bear-like ears, the beautiful indri is one of the largest lemur species. It typically has a black-and-white coat, although in some regions individuals are almost completely black. Indris are arboreal, moving from tree to tree with an upright body posture as they cling and climb, and they are able to make spectacular leaps of 32 feet (10 meters). They also called the babakoto, and are revered by the Malagasy people in cultural myths, legends, and stories. In Malagasy, the word indri means “it is here.” This name may have resulted from a misunderstanding: the European person who first officially named the species for science may have thought his Malagasy guide was pointing at the primate and giving its name, rather than just pointing out where it was!

©Piotr Lukasik

Foods and Feeding

Indris are folivores, eating mostly young leaves. They also eat flowers, fruit, seeds, and bark, and, like other lemurs, play an ecological role in disseminating plant seeds throughout the forest, helping to maintain plant diversity. The occasionally descend from the trees to eat soil, which it’s thought might reduce the effects of toxins in seeds they eat.



Indris live in family groups of two to six individuals, usually a mated pair and their offspring, and the females are dominant, making decisions like where to forage for food and sleep for the night. Males are responsible for defending the home range of the group against intruders, including marking the territory with urine and secretions from special glands on the face. The groups are quite vocal, communicating with among themselves and with other groups with a variety of calls. Indris are famous for “singing,” a series of rhythmic, drawn-out calls that can be heard a mile away and echo hauntingly through the forest.

Habitat Use

The indri is found in tropical humid lowland and montane forests of eastern Madagascar. They are mostly active during the day, spending about 30 to 60 percent of their time foraging for food. They spend the majority of their time in the forest canopy, seldom coming to the ground. This gives them some protection from predators like the fossa, since the lemurs are agile experts at fleeing in the trees.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Indris tend to be monogamous, with a mated pair staying together unless one of them dies. Unlike other lemurs, indri females do not reach reproductive maturity until they reach seven to nine years of age, and they only give birth every two to three years. This slow reproductive rate makes it difficult for depleted populations to recover. Gestation is about four to five months. When a baby is born, it clings to the mother’s belly while she travels. By eight months of age, the young are fairly independent and explore on their own, but they remain with their mother until they are two or three years of age.

Conservation and Threats

Indris are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. The total population is through to be less than 10,000 individuals and is decreasing. One serious threat is deforestation, which depletes the indris’ food sources and homes. It also leads to fragmented indri populations—groups become isolated and cannot reach one another for reproduction and maintaining genetic diversity. Poaching also threatens the indri. It was once taboo to hunt these lemurs, but the traditions have eroded over time and in the face of poverty. Safeguarding of populations within existing protected areas and community-based conservation actions are needed to help ensure the continued survival of these beautiful lemurs.