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A Watchful Eye
8 x 8

One of my favorite group of animals, the lemurs, exist solely on the island of Madagascar. The black and white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata) is one of the largest of the lemur species to inhabit the island. Lemurs are primarily arboreal and diurnal, foraging mainly for fruit during the day in the rain forest canopy. 20% of their diet also consists of nectar, flowers, leaves and seeds.

The complex social structure of lemurs is considered rare in the animal kingdom in that it is dominated by the female members of the colony. The extremely high energy demands of females during reproduction is believed to be the primary reason for this unique hierarchy. Females exhibit dominance by finding food , consuming food before others, and settling fights between individuals. To add to this unusual society, males also assist with the parenting of offspring.

The population of ruffed lemurs has decreased by 80% in the last 30 years. Poaching and slash and burn agricultural practices have taken a huge toll on lemurs and other rainforest species on Madagascar. This particular individual is a captive lemur, observed laying in a patch of sun, maintaining a watchful eye on her cage mates.