The Indri (Indri indri) is the largest extant lemur species (with a head to tail length of up to 75 centimetres) and the first primate of my blog. They have a black and white coat with round, fuzzy ears and a small, vestigial tail – unlike other lemur species. The indri is an arboreal, diurnal, herbivore which is related to sifakas. Their diet consists of leaves, seeds, fruits and flowers found in the lowland and montane forests along the eastern side of Madagascar.
As with all lemur species, they are only native to the isolated island of Madagascar, allowing them to undergo millions of years of evolution. One of the most prominent features of the indri are the large pale green eyes which give them a distinct appearance from other primates, and quite an intimidating glare!
They are perfectly adapted to their environment with strong hind legs and sharp claws to help them elegantly leap from tree to tree. The indri also plays an important role in Madagascan mythology; one of the stories describes a young boy who enters into a forest to collect honey, but is stung by bees in the process. He falls from the tree due to the excruciating pain, from which an indri catches him and carries him to safety.
However, although they are considered a sacred creature and a symbol of good luck by the Madagascan people, the indri is critically endangered and is threatened by habitat destruction, logging and subsistence farming methods which involves ‘slash and burn’ agriculture. Since they are only found in eastern Madagascar, they need to be protected, along with all of the other unique species endemic to Madagascar such as the fossa, the aye-aye and the silky sifaka. Conservation efforts are being made to help improve the indri’s numbers but they still require our support to preserve this remarkably peculiar animal.