Monday, 10 November 2014

Indri

Animal of the Month

Indri; Photo by Oliver Gartner

What's so special about it?

The Indri (Indri indri) is the largest surviving Lemur in the world. Its upright nature and diurnal habits inspire many legends among the Madagascan villagers whom encounter it, who make special note of the Indri's human-like qualities. For some time, this has afforded the creature a certain amount of protection, as locals have historically felt uncomfortable killing an animal that is seen in some ways as 'kin'. The creeping influence of capitalism combined with the erosion of traditional cultural values however, has led to the demise of this fascinating animal, which is now listed as 'critically endangered'. Less than 10,000 of these peaceful herbivores now exist, with increased land clearing predicted to decimate these numbers further.

Where can I see one?
Like all Lemurs, the Indri is found only on the African island of Madagascar, specifically in the forests of the north-east. Lemurs are thought to have evolved from perhaps a small group of very ancient primates that drifted away from the African mainland on floating rafts of vegetation and out to Madagascar around 40 million years ago. Arriving on the island to find a surplus of unused resources, the population boomed, adapted to all the different ecological niches on offer, and eventually diverged into the dazzling array of animals we know today. Back on the mainland, the original primates evolved into monkeys, apes and then, well... us!

Koala, Lake Samsonvale
Is there anything similar near Brisbane?
Kind of. We have a large herbivorous tree-dwelling mammal that lives in the forests around us - the Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Like the Lemurs which thrived on their isolated island home, marsupials such as the Koala found success because they faced no competition from more highly-evolved mammals. Man has upset the balance for both groups of animals now however, and so the Koala joins the Indri in facing an uncertain future. For the time being, Koalas can be spotted within the Brisbane city limits at places such as Mount Gravatt, Chandler and Enoggera Reservoir.

Indri photo courtesy of Oliver Gartner at Wikipedia Commons.


10 comments:

  1. a shame these fine animals are endangered.

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    1. Definitely! Man's footprint is a big one, all over the world. :(

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  2. I am so sorry to hear that the Indi are so severely endangered! They are beautiful lemurs and I hope there is an active attempt to protect them. Thanks for sharing...I had never even heard of them before I saw this post!

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    1. Thanks for reading! :)

      Not sure how they are being protected. I suppose that as deforestation is the major threat, a network of National Parks and reserves would need to be formed?

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  3. Lemurs are so interesting. I've never seen one in the wild though. It's so important that children grow up connected to nature and with a love for wildlife. When people loose their ability to feel comfortable outdoors they stop thinking that wilderness is important.

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    1. That's an interesting point you raise there. If something is abstract and kept at arms length, it will never be fought for.

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    1. Sometimes it seems people around here love housing developments and letting their dog of the leash more than they love Koalas...

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  5. I always think Lemurs, particularly the larger ones, look so human. Sorry if that sounds ridiculous! Something about their expressions and long limbs. Anyway - I'll shut up and go and grump about the second time I've had to read the comment above this morning. It's obviously going viral!

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    1. Yeah that was a weird one! I've deleted it now anyhow, not sure how it made it through in the first place though.

      I don't think that's a ridiculous thing to say about Lemurs! The people of Madagascar tell a tale about the Indri specifically that basically says it is the brother of man, and that it howls in the trees for its lost kin.

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