The Northern Sportive Lemur, also known as the Sahafary sportive lemur or northern weasel lemur, is a species of lemur found only in a minuscule region near the northern edge of Madagascar. With just 18 individuals left alive in this single location (and none in captivity) it has been named one of the world’s 25 most endangered primates.
This species of Lemur is nocturnal, and therefore has large front-facing brown eyes. They are also arboreal (tree based) and move by jumping around from tree to tree. The “Sportive” aspect of their name is derived from their “boxing” stance when they feel threatened. They have pale brownish-grey backs, including a dark line that travels across the spine.
A recent report released at the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in the Indian city of Hyderabad said lemurs in Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa, are severely endangered due to habitat destruction and illegal hunting.
The country’s government was overthrown in a coup in 2009, and the United States has denounced its failure to protect the furry lemurs, which gained fans worldwide through DreamWorks Animation’s “Madagascar” movie series. The lemurs are now one of the world’s most endangered groups of mammals, after more than three years of political crisis and a lack of effective enforcement in their home country.
The Northern Sportive Lemur is a niche species with several very specific conditions that must be met in order to survive or call their perfect habitat. While they may have survived as a highly specialized species before, it is now their own downfall as their precious small habitat is destroyed through deforestation. A native species of Boa is also known to take some Northern Sportive Lemurs from their daytime resting places. The species is also extremely vulnerable to local bushmeat hunters.
At this point not much can be done to save this species. It is unlikely that changes to Madagascar’s policies and enforcements will happen quickly enough.