Endangered Bamboo Lemur [LiveScience 2008-04-03]
Endangered Bamboo Lemur
A young, highly endangered, Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus) is held by its aunt in this image captured in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. The Greater Bamboo Lemur, one of the world's 25 most endangered primates, was first discovered in 1870, then thought to have gone extinct by the early 20th century, then was rediscovered in 1972. These lemurs have a highly specialized diet of giant bamboo plants, a low-energy food, so they spend much of their day eating, although scientists have yet to discover how the lemurs tolerate high concentrations of cyanide present in the plants.
Although the Greater Bamboo Lemur was once widespread in western, northern and central Madagascar, the species now only survives in a few small patches in the south-central portion of Madagascar's eastern rainforest, an existence threatened by the animal’s highly specialized diet, deforestation and hunting.
Credit: Steven Lonker, National Science Foundation