Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur (Lepilemur edwardsi)

Milne Edwards's sportive lemur sitting in tree
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Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur fact file

Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur description

GenusLepilemur (1)

Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur is one of the larger of the sportive lemurs, a genus of leaf-eating primates endemic to Madagascar (4) (5). The sportive lemurs are broadly similar in overall appearance (4). All have a small, densely furred body, big eyes, a prominent conical muzzle, and relatively long hind legs that enable them to leap from tree to tree (4) (5) (6). The upperparts and tail of Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur are generally greyish-brown, while the shoulders and upper fore- and hind-limbs have a conspicuous chestnut tinge. In addition, a dorsal stripe is sometimes visible down the spine, but may also be indistinct. The underparts of this species’ coat are a much paler grey, with occasional patches of cream (4) (5).

Lemur Comadreja De Edwards.
Total length: 51 - 64 cm (2)
804 - 1,020 g (2)

Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur biology

As some of the world’s least active primates, the common name of the sportive lemurs is something of a misnomer. The justification for their apparent laziness is that these small mammals obtain almost all their nutritional needs from leaves. In order to compensate for such a low-energy diet, sportive lemurs have developed extremely slow metabolic rates, requiring long periods of inactivity (6). However, many sportive lemur species do actually augment their leafy diets with occasional fruits, seeds and flowers (4).

Like all species in the genus, Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur is arboreal and strictly nocturnal (4) (7). At night, individuals travel relatively short distances from daytime resting holes to forage sedately in the forest canopy. Long periods spent clinging vertically to a tree trunk are punctuated with short periods of active foraging, when the powerful hind limbs are used to leap considerable distances from one perch to another (4). Home ranges are small, but there is often considerable overlap between adjacent ranges, with night time encounters between neighbouring individuals sometimes leading to defensive vocalisations and aggressive branch-shaking (4) (5) (6). Although almost always solitary when foraging, adult male and female pairs exhibit a strong fidelity for a small number of regular sleeping sites (2). These are usually tree holes or liana tangles around four to five metres off the ground (4) (5). The male and female do not always sleep together at the same site, but tend to remain in close vicinity when sleeping at separate sites. This unusual pattern of social organisation is referred to as dispersed monogamy (2).


Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur range

Recent taxonomic upheavals in the genus Lepilemur have led to some uncertainty in the precise distribution of several species. Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur is currently thought to be restricted to the area between the Betseboke River and the Mahajamba River in western Madagascar (1).


Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur habitat

Found in tropical dry deciduous forests, up to 450 metres above sea level (1) (3) (4).


Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur threats

Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur occurs in severely fragmented and declining populations over a relatively small range (1). The main threat to Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur, as well as many other lemur species in western Madagascar, is habitat loss caused by the burning of forests to create pasture for livestock. In addition to habitat loss, in some areas, hunting of this species for food is further exacerbating its plight (1) (4).


Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur conservation

In addition to being listed on Appendix I of CITES, which permits trade in this species only under exceptional circumstances (3), Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur is known to occur in Ankarafantsika National Park (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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Authenticated (05/06/2009) by Professor Leanne T. Nash, Professor of Anthropology, Arizona State University.



An animal which lives or spends a large amount of time in trees.
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Active at night.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2009)
  2. Rasoloharijaona, S., Rakotosamimanana, B., Randrianambinina, B. and Zimmermann, E. (2003) Pair-specific usage of sleeping sites and their implications for social organization in a nocturnal Malagasy primate, the Milne Edwards' sportive lemur (Lepilemur edwardsi). American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 122(3): 251 - 258.
  3. CITES (November, 2008)
  4. Garbutt, N. (1999) Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press, Sussex.
  5. Mittermeier, R.A., Konstant, W.R., Hawkins, F., Louis, E.E., Langrand, O., Ratsimbazafy, J., Rasoloarison, R., Ganzhorn, J.U., Rajaobelina, S., Tattersall, I. and Meyers, D.M. (2006) Lemurs of Madagascar. Second Edition. Conservation International, Washington, DC.
  6. Macdonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  7. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.

Image credit

Milne Edwards's sportive lemur sitting in tree  
Milne Edwards's sportive lemur sitting in tree

© Nathan Harrison /

Nathan Harrison
Tel: 07812003420


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