Lemurs in Madagascar: See Them in the Wild to Save Them

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Seeing lemurs in Madagascar in their natural habitat can help save this critically endangered species.

Picture of a ring-tailed lemur in Madagascar
Ring-tailed lemurs are the flagship species of lemurs but there are 103 species.

The first thing you are probably asking is:

What exactly is a lemur?

Lemurs are a primate. Specifically, they are prosimian primates.  Primates that aren’t monkey nor apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans). There are 103 species of lemurs. Each of them offers a little quirk of their own that you just can’t helping loving when you meet them in the wild.

Related Reading: Lemur Conservation: How You Can Help Conserve the Lemur

What Kind of Lemurs are in the Madagascar Movies?

When you think of a lemur, you probably think of a ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta). That’s the type that King Julien XIII was.  A self-proclaimed King of the Lemurs. You should see them in the wild!

In the movies, there was also Maurice. He was an assistant and herald for Julien. He’s an Aye-aye lemur. I guarantee that they are just as cute in real life.

There was also Mort. He was a Mouse lemur who adores Julien.

But there are 103 species of lemurs in total. The other ones just aren’t as well-known. But let me tell you, they are just as memorable when you do get to know them.Picture of a Bamboo Lemur in Madagascar

You’ll find the Bamboo Lemur in damp forests where bamboo grows.

Is it Really Worth Going All the Way to Madagascar Just to See a Lemur?

Well if you love primates just as much as I do, which you probably if you are reading this, then yes. It is definitely worth going all the way. I have personally been several times and I love it.

Madagascar is the only place on earth where you can see lemurs in the wild. So if you want to see a lemur it’s your only option.

I’m admittedly biased. However, I’m not the only one who thinks so. ABC News dedicated a segment to lemurs:

And they’re so fascinating that IMAX dedicated an entire movie to them.  The Island of Lemurs: Madagascar starring Morgan Freeman! Not to mention the popular animation Madagascar.

Related Reading: What It’s Really Like to Research Lemurs in the Wild

So how can seeing lemurs in the wild help save them?

As mentioned, lemurs are only found in Madagascar. Sadly, their population has decreased by 95% since 2000. There are now only an estimated 2000 – 2400 animals left.

Making the situation worse? You’ll only find lemurs in Madagascar. So all the eggs are in one basket so to speak. Source:  Folio Primatologia

Of the 25 most endangered primates in the world, 6 of them are in Madagascar according to the IUCN.

Related Reading: Want a Pet Lemur? What You Need to Know First


Why are Lemurs in Madagascar Endangered?

The main reasons for the decline of lemurs are habitat destruction and forest fragmentation. Hunting for subsistence and the illegal bushmeat trade are also key factors. In addition, live capture for the illegal pet trade runs rampant in Madagascar. 28,000 lemurs are kept as pets. It’s illegal but there’s a lack of enforcement.  Source: Earth Touch News Network. This is why I advocate that keeping a lemur, or any primate, as a pet has devastating consequences and should really be reconsidered.

You can even eat endangered lemurs in some Malagasy restaurants. It should go without saying. But please


Picture of a ring-tailed lemur in Madagascar
Ring-tailed lemur hanging out in a tree in Madagascar.

While ring-tailed lemurs may be the flagship species, there are 103 lemur species. They all fall under the protection of CITES. Sadly, 90% of all lemur species are threatened.

My intention isn’t to depress you. But to show you how critical lemur conservation is. And more importantly, how you can help.

Related Reading:  23 of the Best Primate Books You Need to Read

How You Can Help Save Lemurs by Travelling to Madagascar

According to the Lemur Conservation Network:

Many conservationists agree that ecotourism is the number one thing that can ensure the survival of lemurs in Madagascar. The local Malagasy people need to see that lemurs are more valuable alive than dead. 


Tourists will come to see lemurs in the wild. Officials say tourism is now a real priority for Madagascar’s new government… That can attract up to two million annual visitors by 2020. 


This would mean millions of dollars for Madagascar’s economy.

Picture of a Sportive Lemur in Madagascar
Have you heard of a Sportive Lemur? They’re one of 103 species of lemurs in Madagascar.

 Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda as a Case Study for Lemurs in Madagascar?

Over the past 35 years, the mountain gorilla population has almost doubled to approximately 880 individuals. That’s still really low. And gorillas are still critically endangered. However, it is a significant improvement.

Official estimates suggest that 85% of the tourism industry (in Rwanda) is gorilla-centric. Source: Discover Magazine.

One day that resulted in $68,250. And that was just from gorillas permits. That doesn’t count for the additional income brought in through accommodations, meals, etc. And that was just for one day.

In 2005, Rwanda started a revenue-sharing initiative with the national parks giving 5% back of revenues to local villages. That’s resulted in $1.8 million. And hundreds of community development projects.

Picture of a ruffed lemur in Madagascar
Ruffed lemurs eat the most fruit of all the lemur species.

In other words, when Rwandans benefited from ecotourism, so did the gorillas.

Ecotourism to Save Lemurs in Madagascar

According to the World Bank, Madagascar is one of the poorest countries on the planet. 70% of the population is considered poor.

It’s hard to think about saving lemurs if your stomach is growling or if your child is looking up at you wide-eyed with hunger.

Picture of a Sifaka, a type of lemur in Madagascar
Sifakas are known for their unique “shi-fak” alarm call. You’ll often hear them before you see them.

According to Our Africa, only 200,000 people visit Madagascar a year. To put that in perspective, Venice – just one city, receives 20 million tourists. Florida alone attracts 100 million tourists a year.

Imagine, the positive economic development that ecotourism could have on Madagascar.

According to Dr. Tara Clarke, former Visiting Assistant Professor, Duke University and former Director of Outreach, Lemur Love, Inc:

I believe that responsible eco-tourism can lead to positive impacts for lemur conservation. At the same time simultaneously contributing to Madagascar’s local economy.

When tourists become emerged in diverse local cultures and traditions. And when they experience first hand how severe poverty is. They can see that it’s one of the underlying issues contributing to the loss of habitat and biodiversity. That can inspire change.

While Madagascar and its endemic lemurs are under serious threat, there is still hope. And together we can make a difference for the people and wildlife.

When I decided to create a tour to Madagascar, it was because of a desire to help make a positive impact on lemur conservation. Something that I believe ecotourism, when managed properly can do.


Picture of a nocturnal mouse lemur in Madagascar
Mouse Lemur is a nocturnal species that you may see when doing a night walk in Madagascar.

There are many other much more famous destinations where it made better business sense to focus. But after my visit to Madagascar and the privilege of observing lemurs in the wild, I felt compelled to do something.

Help Save Lemurs by Travelling to Madagascar: Highlights of Our Ecotour

  • Opportunity to look for Groves’dwarf lemur. It’s the newest species of lemur recently discovered.
  • Observe endangered lemurs in the wild. You may even get new dance moves from watching the dancing sifakas.
  • Listen for the eerie calls of the Indri. You’ve never heard anything like this!
  • Hike in three of Madagascar’s most beautiful national parks.
  • Participate in a community-based conservation education outreach activity with local Malagasy children.
  • Create lemur enrichment at ONG Reniala Lemur Rescue Center (LRC).  Enrichment is an important/essential part of captive care.
  • Search for mouse lemurs and other nocturnal critters on night walks.
  • Observe other wildlife. We’ll look for birds, colourful chameleons, frogs.
  • Visit one of the most unique places on the planet. There’s nowhere else on the planet that’s like Madagascar. If you have a sense of adventure, you’ll love Madagascar.
Picture of a Sifaka, known as the dancing lemur.
Sifakas, aka the “dancing lemurs” for how they move. You’ll come back from Madagascar with new dance moves.

There are so many opportunities

This custom-designed wildlife of Madagascar tour gives you direct access to one of the world’s leading lemur researchers. You’ll learn directly from her for one day. At the same time, you’re also supporting her incredible work.


You’ll also have a direct impact on the local community. Our guide and driver are Malagasy. So are the numerous guides that we’ll have in the national parks. This provides local employment. It gives Malagasy an incentive to focus on lemur conservation.


Me with Malagasy children where we donated school supplies to a school in a village.

Not only that, but you’ll be interacting with local Malagasy children in a community-based education project. It’s important to get the involvement of locals. And you’ll get to be a part of it.

Can you tell that I’m just a wee bit excited about this tour? Confession: it’s not just excitement, it’s THE most important tour that I’m doing to date.

Travel with me to see lemurs in Madagascar for a trip of a lifetime AND save lemurs at the same time.

You’ll be helping to create a positive future for lemurs.  The time to do it is now – before it’s too late.

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