Madagascar Ring-tailed Lemur.
This photo was taken in November 2009 in Andringitra National Park near the village of Andasy (located in south-central Madagascar) where this female lemur is keeping a close watch on the group while overseeing the Tsaranoro Valley which is surrounded by the steep granite cliffs of the Andringitra Mountain range.
The ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) is endemic to the island of Madagascar, living in groups of up to 30 individuals and highly social. It is also female dominant, a trait common among lemurs. To keep warm and reaffirm social bonds, groups will huddle together forming a lemur ball.
The ring-tailed lemur will also sunbathe, sitting upright facing its underside, with its thinner white fur towards the sun. Like other lemurs, this species relies strongly on its sense of smell and marks its territory with scent glands. The males perform a unique scent marking behavior called spur marking and will participate in stink fights by impregnating their tail with their scent and wafting it at opponents.
Andringitra National Park has been managed by WWF since 1993 and it was declared a national park in 1999. Over an area of 31160 hectars it is characterised by mountains, including Pic Boby, which at 2658 meters is Madagascar’s highest accessible peak.
The park is subdivided into three ecosystems: low altitude rainforest, montane mountain forest and high altitude vegetation. Andringitra National Park is an important central link in the longest unbroken chain of rainforest remaining in Madagascar. It stretches 180km from Ranomafana National Park in the north connecting to Peak Ivohibe in the south.
Andringitra has possibly the highest biodiversity of any park in Madagascar. The complex mixture of lifestyles, methods of cultivation and lifestock raising left its mark on the landscape. Much of lowland humid forests surrounding the park have been cleared for farming methods such as paddy rice and slash-and-burn agriculture. WWF as well as other organisations work closely together with local residents to conserve the forest.