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1 November 2008 The Crisis of the Critically Endangered Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus)
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Prolemur simus (the greater bamboo lemur) is the most abundant lemur in the northern subfossil sites of Madagascar. Living populations still persist, but in low numbers within a diminished range, making it one of the most critically endangered lemurs. Over the past twenty years scientists have searched the south- and central-eastern rain forests of Madagascar. Despite surveys that encompass over 500 km2, less than 75 animals have been found, with a recent total count of 60. More encouraging is that in 2007 two new sites containing P. simus were found: Mahasoa an unprotected 150 ha fragment east of the Ranomafana/Andringitra corridor (17 P. simus), and Torotorofotsy, a RAMSAR site near Andasibe (∼16 P. simus). Prolemur simus is a bamboo specialist with a patchy geographic distribution, which may be driven by the distribution of one or two bamboo species. Home ranges are large, group size has been observed to be from four to 26 individuals, and localities may be spaced hundreds of kilometers apart. Ranomafana National Park contains the only fully habituated group, and there are a total of three groups known in the park. We make recommendations for conservation action for these populations of P. simus. If immediate action is taken, we may be able to prevent the extinction of this species within the next decades.

Received: 1 September 2007; Accepted: 1 February 2008; Published: 1 November 2008

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