The marvelous Indris are a large species of Lemur -in fact, the biggest Lemur of them all, and like all Lemurs, they are believed to have come to the island of Madagascar from Africa around 50 million years ago.
Since there were no other primates to compete with, Lemurs soon adapted to live in a variety of habitats, producing a diverse range of species. Let’s remember that Madagascar holds the world record of endemic species, with 90% of the flora and fauna existing only in the Island.
Indri Indri Lemurs are arboreal animals meaning that they spend the majority of their lives eating, sleeping and mating high up in the trees.
As we already mentioned, Indris are the largest of all living Lemur species today. Their average height tends to be between 23 to 32 inches tall (Some recorded specimens reached over 40 inches!) a have a tail of just 1 to 2 inches (this is one of the main differences with all other Lemurs, which have tails that are around the same length as their bodies). The Indri has a beautiful dense coat of silky black fur with a varying number of white patches, depending on the geographic region (they tend to be darker in the northern parts of the Island). Their long hind legs aid them in leaping up to 33 foot between vertical branches in the forest!
The Indri is a social animal, living in small family units of between 2 to 6 individuals; that consist of a male and female pair with their young. They are unique among primates because it is the females who are the dominant ones.
Lemurs communicate through a series of eerie wailing calls both to unite families and also to mark their territory, which can be heard up to 1,2 miles away. They also have an excellent sense of smell that gives them the possibility to avoid confrontation with predators.
Female Indris reach sexual maturity at around 8 or 9 years old, and they have one baby each 2 or 3 years. The Indri infant clings onto the belly of it’s mother for the first few months of life when it then moves to her back. They get independent at the age of 8 months but usually remain with their mother until they are 2 or 3 years old.
Although adult Indris have been known to get well into their twenties, most live for 15 to 18 years.
The Indri is a herbivorous and diurnal animal, meaning that it spends most of its life looking for food during the daytime. Their diet is based on 32 species of leaves along with fruits, seeds, and flowers.
Although the exact number of Indris inhabiting Madagascar today is unknown, there are those who estimate the population at 10,000 individuals left in the wild. Other estimates are more concerning, claiming that there may be as few as 1,000 specimens left only. They are listed as an endangered species.
Despite the last, the Indri Indris are easily found at the Andasibe National Park, just three hours away from Antananarivo. During the New Paths Expeditions Wild Madagascar Expedition, we go on Lemur Safaris every day, and of course, we spend time looking for the Indri Indri. During our ten years exploring the Island of endemics, all our groups have been successful in observing this species in the wild. One can never forget the excitement generated by photographing Indris, and listening to their amazing, strong calls.
A journey through Madagascar is all about intimate encounters with wildlife, such as the Indri Indri. If you love wildlife and world exploration, we invite you to join us on a virtual exploration of the Islands of Endemics.
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