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All members of the indri indri have specilisations to accomodate a folivorous diet.Early dissections showed them to be anatomical folivores with hypertrophied salivary glands' voluminous stomaches, sacculated ceca, and looped colons, which facilitates efficent digestion of leaf parts.Anomica folivores canbe classified as either foregut (c.g., colobine monkeys) or midgut fermenters (previously known as hindgut fermenters). All indriids are the latter, exibiting increased surface area in the midgut where nutrience are made available through fermentation of fiber by symbiotic gut flora (protozoan and bacterial). During fermentation, volitile fatty acids are relesed and then passed into the bloodstreem where they are taken up by the animal as a form of assimilable energy. compared to foregut specialist , midgut fermenters are able to consume more fiborus foliage but need larger volumes to pass through their digestive tract to ensure sufficant exstraction on nutrients. Within the indriid clade, the indri shows the highest degree of specilizations for foliage digestion over any other confamilial.
The teeth of the Indri Indri are also indictave of a folivororus lemurid. All indriids have a reduced dentition, with just 30 teeth rather than the typical 36 teeth. The molars of the Indri have high crowns and long sheering blades to slice up fiborus plant matter and fruit seeds. in addition, the indri's molars are squared off with a bilophodent morphology that only the indriidae and the cercopithicoidea exibit the large crushing basins of these molars are highly effectiive at breaking down plant matter to even finer grades.
Indris are considered to be the largest of all of the lemurs, and are the only lemurs with vestigial tails. They have dense, silky black and white fur, with their patterns varying between populations on the island . Indris at the northern edge of the range tend to be darker, while those at the southern edge are usually lighter in colour. Their ears are black and tufted, and they have long muzzles, long slender legs and short arms .They are arboreal, with fantastic adaptations to allow them to climb trees and leap from one to another. Their powerful legs are about one third longer than their arms, and are able to propel them through the forest canopy in an upright position over distances of up to ten metres . The hands and feet are large and adapted for climbing trees and running along the forest floor, with small opposable thumbs, and large opposable big toes, which are useful for grabbing and handling things. The other toes are held together by webbing and work as one unit . The females are often larger in size than the males, and look very similar in appearance, as do the juveniles.
The indri is found in primary and secondary lowland and mid-altitude rain forest from sea level to about 1500 m (4900'), although elevations below 1000 m (3300') appear to be preferred.
The indri lives in both the Madagascar & Indian Ocean Islands Biodiversity HotspotThe indri is one of the most endangered species of lemur on Madagascar, and one of the most threatened primates in the world . They live by the coast, where forests have become so fragmented that they are almost too small to sustain viable populations . The main threat is slash-and-burn agriculture, a practice that continues even in protected areas . Forests are also cut down for fuel and timber as human populations increase . Hunting of the indri is a taboo in many areas on the island, so this species does not suffer as much as other lemurs from trapping, although sometimes it is killed for food . Despite this, the indri is a seriously endangered species and will almost certainly face extinction in the next 100 years if conservation efforts do not succeed .
The indri has never been bred successfully in captivity. Protection of their natural habitat is therefore imperative to ensure that they are not lost forever . Unfortunately there is no easy answer to Madagascar's conservation problems. Despite the indri being endangered, Madagascar's increasing human population needs space and resources and inevitably this erodes natural habitats. This problem is made worse because Madagascar is an island; this therefore limits the area that men and wildlife can expand into. Conservation plans have designated some areas of the island to be protected from deforestation, but there is evidence that forest clearing continues inside the parks . It would be sad indeed to see the indri populations, once so prevalent, dwindle away to nothing .
View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
The Indri is listed as Endangered (EN), considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild, on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
In the early 1900's, the indri was so common that one traveler reported that no one could travel from Tamatave to Antanarivo without often hearing its cries. By the 1960's its abundance was decreasing due to deforestation.In the 1990's it was thought to occur in the central-eastern and northeastern rain forests ofMadagascarfrom sea level to around 1500 m (4900'). Its range extends from the Mangoro River in the south to the area just southwest of Andapa in the north.
The indri is severely threatened by deforestation of its habitat for fuel, logging and slash-and-burn agriculture. Even forests lying within the bounds of protected areas continue to be felled and disturbed. Indris are not hunted by the local people because of taboos ("fady"). However, there are reports of immigrants from other tribal groups and even some foreign immigrants hunting indri.
The indrifeeds on leaves, fruit, flowers,and other vegetation. young leaves and leaf buds, but also some flowers and both ripe and unripe fruits.