IUCN threat status:

Endangered (EN)

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Lepilemur ankaranensis, the Ankarana sportive lemur or Ankarana weasel lemur, is one of 20+ sportive lemur species (family Lepilerumidae).  All sportive lemurs are native to and found exclusively in Madagascar.  This species was not recognized until recent cytogenetic and molecular analyses revealed five (morphologically indistinguishable) populations of Lepilemur septentrionalis.  These studies found that the four populations inhabiting the regions of Ankarana, Ambohitra (containing the Montagne d’Ambre national park), Andrafiamenta and Analamera were interbreeding (and are now designated L. ankaranensis) but the fifth, numbering an estimated 150 individuals in the northeast Madagascar Sahafary region, was found to have chromosomal rearrangements making it genetically isolated from the other four (now designated L. septentrionalis; Rumpler et al. 2001, Ravaoarimanana et al. 2004).  The two distinct lineages appear to have diverged about 500 years ago.  Ravaoarimanana et al. (2004) recommend recognition of these as two cryptic species in order to insure that both (especially the critically vulnerable L. septentrionalis) are protected.

The four L. ankarana sportive lemur populations (as well as L. septentrionalis) inhabit moist evergreen forests and dry deciduous forests and are most numerous in the moist Ankarana forests.  Among the smallest of the sportive lemurs, they measure a total adult length of about 53 cm (21 in), including 25 cm (10 in) of tail.   They forage on leaves as solitary individuals at night and hide in tree hole shelters by day.  The fragmented nature and small size of their habitat, which is decreasing especially in areas of charcoal harvesting, as well as ongoing hunting pressure makes these animals vulnerable to extinction (Andrainarivo et al. 2013).


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© Dana Campbell

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