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Eulemur sanfordi | Sanford's Brown Lemur


Good spot: Montagne d'Ambre National Park, Antsiranana Province, Madagascar



Taxonomy & Occurrence

Eulemur sanfordi is a monotypic species. Its geographic range is restricted to northern Madagascar, from the Montagne des Français near Diego Suarez as far south as the Manambato River, which marks the southernmost extremity of its range. It is found in a number of accessible protected areas, including Montagne d'Ambre and Ankarana national parks, the Analamerana Special Reserve [1] and in the forests of the Daraina region such as the Loky-Manambato Protected Area [2].


IUCN Conservation Status


Sanford's Brown Lemur

© Thomas Martin

Montagne d'Ambre National Park, Madagascar

Seeing this Species


The only other member of the genus sympatric with the Sanford's Brown Lemur is Crowned Lemur (Eulemur coronatus), although the two are easy to distinguish. The Sanford's Brown Lemur is a medium-sized lemur, pale brown in colour, with a black face and orange eyes. This species is sexually dimorphic - the males are characterised by their stark white ear tufts and mane-like beard, of which the female is lacking. This species is cathemeral, i.e. active both day and night and group size can number up to 15 [3], meaning they can be noisy and relatively easy to locate.


While this species, especially the female, may be difficult for the inexperienced primate-watcher to distinguish from other members of the Eulemur genus, its limited range and the lack of overlapping similar species makes identification more certain in the field.


Montagne d'Ambre National Park, Antsiranana Province, Madagascar 

This national park is easily accessible by car from Diego Suarez (approximately 30km). While a day-trip is possible, it is recommended to stay at one of the comfortable lodgings just outside the Park, which would enable you to do some night walks in the hope of seeing some of the nocturnal primate species in the area.


This national park is very visitor-friendly, with broad, open trails taking visitors to waterfalls and botanical gardens. There are some truly excellent guides in Montagne d'Ambre National Park and you may engage them from the park office. The guides are well-versed in the likely hangouts of this species.


Although this is a cathemeral species, you are far more likely to see it during daylight hours. Some groups appear well-habituated to human presence, meaning you can potentially get an undisturbed and close look at this beautiful lemur.


Probability of success: ◆ ◆ ◆ ◇ ◇


Overlapping species: Aye-aye, Crowned Lemur, Montagne d'Ambre Dwarf Lemur, Montagne d'Ambre Fork-crowned Lemur, Arnhold's Mouse Lemur, Ankarana Sportive Lemur


Other sites:

Analamerana Special Reserve


Overlapping species: 


Ankarana National Park


Overlapping species: 


Loky-Manambato Protected Area


Overlapping species: 



Local contacts:    


One of three primary waterfalls

© Thomas Martin

Montagne d'Ambre National Park

Easy walking trails

© Thomas Martin

Montagne d'Ambre National Park


[1] Nicoll M.E. & Legrand O., 1989. Madagascar: Revue de la Conservation et des Aires Protegees. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Gland, Switzerland.

[2] Randrianarisoa P.M., Rasamison A. & Rakotozafy L., 1999. Les lemuriens de la region de Daraina: foret d'Analamazava, foret de Bekaraoka et foret de Sahaka. Lemur News 4: 1-26.

[3] Wilson J.M., Stewart P.D., Ramangason G.-S., Denning A.M. & Hutchings M.S., 1989. Ecology and conservation of the crowned lemur, Lemur coronatus, at Ankarana, N. Madagascar, with notes on Sanford's lemur, other sympatrics and subfossil lemurs. Folia Primatologica 52(1-2): 1-26.


Contributed by Luke Martin

Page Last Updated: 11 October 2016

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