Coquette

BarbBarcikKeith

Maple Heights, United States

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10×14 watercolor enhanced colored pencil. Original available. As of 05-31-11, 347 views.

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Coquerel’s Sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) is a medium-sized lemur of the sifaka genus Propithecus. Like all lemurs, it is endemic to Madagascar. DescriptionCoquerel’s Sifaka is a vertical clinger and leaper with long, powerful hind legs and an upright posture. It has a head-body length of 42-50 cm and a tail length of 50-60 cm. The total mature length (including tail) is approximately 93 to 110 cm. Adult body mass is typically around 4 kg. The dorsal pelage and tail are white, with maroon patches on the chest and portions of the limbs. The coat is generally dense. Its face is bare and black except for a distinctive patch of white fur along the bridge of the nose. Its naked ears are also black, and its eyes are yellow or orange.
Distribution
This species occurs only at altitudes of less than 300 ft in the dry deciduous forests of northwestern Madagascar, including coastal forests. It primarily occurs to the north and east of the Betsiboka River, and the southerly portion of the range extends to Ambato-Boéni.

Groups of this species have a home range area amounting to 4-9 hectares. Overall densities in the wild are observed in the range of 60 individuals per km².

Locomotion
In the trees, Coquerel’s Sifaka moves by vertical clinging and leaping. It maintains an upright posture when at rest or when propelling itself between branches or trunks. This style of arboreal locomotion is characteristic of most, if not all, lemurs.

Occasionally Coquerel’s Sifaka will descend to the ground to cross open spaces. Its terrestrial locomotion is unique to its species. Like Verreaux’s Sifaka, it moves in a series of bipedal hops with its arms thrown out to the sides for balance. However, whereas Verreaux’s Sifaka bounds sideways and crosses its legs one in front of the other, the Coquerel’s Sifaka bounds forward, like a kangaroo. It leans in the direction of its jump to achieve forward momentum.

Conservation status and threats
Though its populations are thought to be widely distributed, Coquerel’s Sifaka is found in only two protected areas in Madagascar: the Ankarafantsika National Park and the Bora Special Reserve. It is an endangered species. The principal threats to its existence are deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and hunting pressure. In northwestern Madagascar, deforestation results from annual burning to create new pastureland for livestock. Trees are also cut for the production of charcoal.

Many local Malagasy traditions prohibit hunting of the Coquerel’s Sifaka. However, these protective taboos are breaking down with cultural erosion and immigration.

Even the protected areas in which the Coquerel’s Sifaka occurs offer it little protection. It is hunted even within Ankarafantsika, and the Bora Special Reserve has become seriously degraded.

Coquerel’s Sifaka has been successfully raised and bred in captivity. A large breeding colony lives at the Duke Lemur Center. Other breeding groups exist at the Saint Louis Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, and Paris Zoo.

Complete 2008

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