Perrier’s Sifaka

Propithecus perrieri

Critically Endangered

Critically Endangered

3.7 to 6 kg (8 to 13 lbs); about 90 cm (35 in) in length including the tail

About 15 years

Dry deciduous forest on limestone karst and semi-evergreen forest on sandstone soil



Gestation: 5 to 6 months
Young: 1

Habitat Loss


Perrier’s sifaka is one of the world’s most endangered primate species and one of the rarest of all lemurs.

They used to be considered a subspecies of the diademed lemur, but they have since been determined to be their own species.

These sifakas use a variety of calls to communicate, including one that sounds like a sneeze.

Aggression between groups is low. They tend to go with the live and let live philosophy.


Perrier’s sifaka is a very rare lemur species that is seldom seen. It has striking good looks, with a coat of dense, silky black fur and a long bushy tail, and orange-red eyes that almost seem to glow. Like other sifakas, Perrier’s has long, powerful legs that used in a type of locomotion called “vertical clinging.” They keep their body upright while pushing off with their legs to propel themselves to another branch or tree—sometimes as far as 30 feet! They are expert climbers, with grasping hands and feet to hold onto branches and a long tail for maintaining balance.


Foods and Feeding

Perrier’s sifakas feed predominantly on leaves, which make up an average of 50% of their diet, but they also dine on fruits, flowers, and seeds. What they eat tends to vary with the seasons. They consume more fruits and seeds during the wet season, particularly tamarinds and figs, but they fill up on leaves during the dry season. They are known to eat more than a dozen different plant species. Perrier’s sifakas play a role as seed dispersers in the forest, and as heavy leaf-eaters, they also impact the growth of vegetation.


Perrier’s sifakas form small groups, ranging in size from about two to six individuals, which are led by a dominate female. They start the day early, warming up with the sun before heading out to forage. The group stays in touch with a variety of quiet calls. But if a predator is spotted, they use an alarm call to gather everyone together until the threat passes.

They spend most of their time in the trees, but occasionally they will descend to the forest floor to get a drink or to travel across an open space. They are more vulnerable on the ground, so they “dance” to their destination. They stand upright, with their arms spread out to the sides, looking like a human dancer. Using their tail for balance, they hop and jump sideways, a graceful but also quick way to cover ground.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Because they are so rare, the reproductive behavior of Perrier’s sifakas has not been well studied. However, since they were once considered a subspecies of diademed sifakas, their reproduction is thought to be similar. They probably use multiple mating strategies, which can change from season to season depending on group size and structure. Sexual maturity is about 4 years old for females, and 5 years old for males. Females are only in estrus for a short period of time, about 10 hours. Mating occurs in the summer and the birth of one offspring occurs five to six months later, typically in June.

The female is the primary caregiver of the offspring. Her newborn clings to her belly for the first four weeks of its life. After that, the youngster starts riding on her back, and by four months of age it is moving around on its own. But mom continues to keep a watchful eye out for about two years.

Conservation and Threats

With a limited population, Perrier’s sifaka is in a fight for its survival. It is still protected by a local Antankarana taboo (fady) that prohibits poaching and consumption, which is shared by many local people. However, with more people coming to Madagascar and limited resources, there has been an increase in hunting for food and to sell in the pet trade. As with other species, these lemurs are also threatened by habitat loss and degradation of their forests in northern Madagascar. However, conservation programs that include developing ecotourism and partnering to build economic opportunities for the people living in the area hold great promise for protecting Perrier’s sifakas and the other wildlife that share their habitat.