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Varecia rubra | Red Ruffed Lemur


Good spot: Masoala National Park, Masoala Peninsula, Madagascar



Taxonomy & Occurrence

Varecia rubra is a monotypic species. It has a restricted range in northeastern Madagascar. Endemic to the primary rainforests of the Masoala Peninsula and the region north of Antongil Bay, this species is separated from the closely related Black-&-white Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata) by the Antainambalana River [1].


IUCN Conservation Status

Critically Endangered

Seeing this Species


The Red Ruffed Lemur is large and dark red in colour with a black face and tail. The characteristic red ear tufts gave it its name. Usually seen in the tree canopy, it can also be detected by its loud and unmistakable vocalisations.


Masoala National Park, Masoala Peninsula, Madagascar 

The Masoala National Park, including the Nosy Mangabe Reserve, is Madagascar's largest national park. The park can be accessed from the town of Maroantsetra by boat, or from the town of Antalaha by road using taxi or motorbike. Arrangements for a local guide and boat can be made through the well-organised National Park office in Maroantsetra.  


Multi-day hikes are available in this wild and expansive park. Most of the trails hug the coastline (Humpback Whales can be seen in-season), while others extend into the rainforest - the latter might be one of your best locations to see the Red Ruffed Lemur. You can stay overnight in some of the villages dotted along the coast, where accommodation ranges from simple bungalows to high-end secluded lodges. A multi-night stay is recommended for this magical part of Madagascar.


Probability of success: ◆ ◆ ◆ ◇ ◇


Overlapping species: Aye-aye, Greater Dwarf Lemur, Hairy-eared Dwarf Lemur, Masoala Fork-crowned Lemur, Masoala Sportive Lemur, Masoala Woolly Lemur, Seal's Sportive Lemur, Western Lesser Bamboo Lemur, White-fronted Brown Lemur 


Other sites:

Makira Forest Protected Area

This protected area harbours a high lemur diversity with at least 14 species.


Overlapping species: Aye-aye, Black-&-white Ruffed Lemur, Common Brown Lemur, Eastern Woolly Lemur, Greater Dwarf Lemur, Indri, MacArthur's Mouse Lemur (provisionally present), Masoala Fork-crowned Lemur, Red-bellied Lemur, Seal's Sportive Lemur, Silky Sifaka, Western Lesser Bamboo Lemur, White-fronted Brown Lemur


Local contacts: Emile is a local guide and a friend - experienced and highly recommended. Do ask for him at the park office!  


Research station within the national park

© Thomas Martin

Masoala National Park

Our only good shot of the lemur during this trip

© Thomas Martin

Masoala National Park


[1] Mittermeier R., Louis E., Hawkins F., Langrand O., Ganzhorn J., Konstant W., Rasoloarison R. et al., 2008. Lemurs of Madagascar. 3rd edition, Conservation International.


Illustration by Keulemans J.G., 1896. In Forbes H.O., A handbook to the primates, vol. 1. Public domain. Accessed via The Nash Collection of Primates in Art and Illustration. Primate Center Library: Arts Collection. Local identifier: PCLArts.PCLA1059.bib


Contributed by Luke Martin


Page Last Updated: 13 November 2016

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