Indri (Indri Indri) is a species of lemur which evolved from smaller individuals that came to the island from Africa about 50 million years ago. Having no other competitors, they adapted to living in a great variety of habitats producing a great variety of species.

Close-up of an indri
Close-up of an indri

Species

The indri is closely related to primitive primates, such as the Bushbabies, Pottos, and Loris. Currently, there are 100 different species of lemurs along with their subspecies.

The indri is the only species within its genus. It is thought that in the past, when the forests of Madagascar were not deforested, there were other Indris species that inhabit the tops of the eastern forests of the island.

Features

The indri is the largest species of lemur, with certain individuals reaching almost 1 meter in height. The average usually varies between 60 - 80 cm in height with a tail only 5 cm in length. It has a rudimentary tail, and large hands and feet. The head is rounded with a rounded and hairy face.

The toes and monkeys are very skilled, good at catching, and with their long hind legs they can jump up to 1 meter between the vertical branches of the forest. Before taking a jump, they look ahead with their yellow eyes to help them measure the distance of the jump before executing it.

The coat is a single dense layer of silky black hair with a number of white spots that varies according to the area to which they belong. The further south, the whiter the spots and the further north, the darker.

Behavior

Indri like lemurs are arboreal animals, so they spend most of their lives from tree to tree, eating, sleeping and perching high in the trees.

They establish a society by forming small family groups between 2 - 6 individuals, formed by a pair of males and females with their respective offspring. The females are the dominant ones, so they are the first to eat, while the males protect the territory.

The territory is marked by urine and is recognized thanks to its great sense of smell. This makes it possible to avoid confrontations with other groups.

They communicate through eerie cries that are used both to mark their territory and to call each other. These cries can be heard up to 2 km away.

Habitat

The indrii inhabit only the lowland jungle and tropical forests.

Distribution

The indri like all lemurs are only found on the island of Madagascar. Currently, they are found in small parts of the protected forest in eastern Madagascar.

Food

The indri is a herbivorous animal that eats almost everything it sees. They are diurnal animals, so they remain active during the day where they take the opportunity to feed on both the trees and the ground.

The females are the first to feed and it is common to find them looking for new leaves. The leaves are picked up with their skillful fingers, and the young leaves are produced, along with fruits, seeds and flowers.

Predators

Although the indri lives in the top of the trees and is safe from terrestrial predators, there are certain animals that have no problem reaching them.

The main predator is an incredibly agile mammal named Fosa that has evolved to hunt lemurs. There are other predators such as birds of prey, such as hawks, and reptiles, such as snakes.

However, currently one of the main predators is humans, who constantly clear hundreds of hectares of natural jungle, making there less and less space to live.

Indri caught on a rope in a protected area
Indri caught on a rope in a protected area

Reproduction

The female indri reaches sexual maturity around 8 - 9 years. From this moment on they can have a baby every two or three years. The young are born between May - June after a gestation period between 4 - 5 months.

The baby clings to the mother's womb during the first months of life, after this time it will spend doing it on the back. At eight months of age they begin to be independent but remain with her until 2 - 3 years.

Unfortunately, most do not live to more than 2 years of age due to illness or injury. If they exceed this stage they can live between 15 - 18 years and certain individuals who have reached 20 years have been registered.

State of conservation

The exact number of Indris is unknown. It is estimated that fewer than 10.000 individuals remain in the wild. Other estimates suggest that fewer than 1.000 remain but that they are protected by including them on the endangered species list.

One of the problems that science finds is that this species does not breed well in captivity, which does not allow the creation of specialized programs for reintegration and thus increase the population.

The main threats to this species is the deforestation of its natural habitat.

Relationship with humans

The indri is respected among native humans as sacred animals, and not to harm or hunt it. However, other non-native humans on the island have arrived to hunt him down and obtain his skins.

Popular culture

The indri is known crazily as "babakoto" which means "man's little father or ancestor", since the natives believe that the Indi (with their lack of visible tail) is similar to their ancestors, so they have a certain taboo for their consumption, which offers them protection for their beliefs.

There are several legends that relate the indri and humans. In certain regions they believe that two brothers lived together in the forest until one of them decided to leave and cultivate the land. That brother became the first human and the brother who stayed on the island became the first indri, crying for his brother who was lost.

Another legend tells that a man went hunting in the forest and did not return. His son went looking for him, worrying about his absence. This one was also lost, so the rest of the town went out to look for them and they found two lemurs. One of them was an indri (the son) and the father a lemur. There is another version in which only the son is transformed, and the indri's cry emulates the father's cry for his lost son.

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