Skip to main content Accessibility help

Live capture and ownership of lemurs in Madagascar: extent and conservation implications

  • Kim E. Reuter (a1), Haley Gilles (a1), Abigail R. Wills (a2) and Brent J. Sewall (a1)


Overexploitation is a significant threat to biodiversity, with live capture of millions of animals annually. An improved understanding of live capture of primates is needed, especially for Madagascar's threatened lemurs. Our objectives were to provide the first quantitative estimates of the prevalence, spatial extent, correlates and timing of lemur ownership, procurement methods, within-country movements, and numbers and duration of ownership. Using semi-structured interviews of 1,093 households and 61 transporters, across 17 study sites, we found that lemur ownership was widespread and affected a variety of taxa. We estimate that 28,253 lemurs have been affected since 2010. Most lemurs were caught by owners and kept for either short (≤ 1 week) or long (≥ 3 years) periods. The live capture of lemurs in Madagascar is not highly organized but may threaten several Endangered and Critically Endangered species.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Live capture and ownership of lemurs in Madagascar: extent and conservation implications
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Live capture and ownership of lemurs in Madagascar: extent and conservation implications
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Live capture and ownership of lemurs in Madagascar: extent and conservation implications
      Available formats


Corresponding author

(Corresponding author) E-mail


Hide All
Andreone, F., Cadle, J.E., Cox, N., Glaw, F., Nussbaum, R.A., Raxworthy, C.J. et al. (2005) Species review of amphibian extinction risks in Madagascar: conclusions from the Global Amphibian Assessment. Conservation Biology, 19, 17901802.
Andrews, J., Antilahimena, P. & Birkinshaw, C.R. (1998) Use of a day testing box by a wild sportive lemur, Lepilemur dorsalis, on Nosy Be, north-western Madagascar. Folia Primatologica, 69(suppl. 1), 1821.
Baillie, J.E.M., Hilton-Taylor, C. & Stuart, S.N. (eds) (2004) 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A Global Species Assessment. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, and Cambridge, UK.
Bates, D., Maechler, M., Bolker, B. & Walker, S. (2013) lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using Eigen and S4. R package version 1.0–5. Http:// [accessed 6 March 2014].
Birkinshaw, C., Ravoahangy, A. & Andriamaharoa, H.E. (2007) Lemur records at priority sites for plant conservation. Lemur News, 12, 3536.
Cardiff, S. & Befourouack, J. (2003) The Reserve Speciale d'Ankarana. In The Natural History of Madagascar (eds Goodman, S. & Benstead, J.P.), pp. 15011507. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.
Ceballos-Mago, N., González, C.E. & Chivers, D.J. (2010) Impact of the pet trade on the Margarita capuchin monkey Cebus apella margaritae . Endangered Species Research, 12, 5768.
Clark, M. (1997) The mongoose lemur Eulemur mongoz on Anjouan, Comores. Dodo, Journal of The Wildlife Preservation Trusts, 33, 3644.
Corlett, R.T. (2007) The impact of hunting on the mammalian fauna of tropical Asian forests. Biotropica, 39, 292303.
Duarte-Quiroga, A. & Estrada, A. (2003) Primates as pets in Mexico City: an assessment of the species involved, source of origin, and general aspects of treatment. American Journal of Primatology, 61, 5360.
Eppley, T.M., Verjans, E. & Donati, G. (2011) Coping with low-quality diets: a first account of the feeding ecology of the southern gentle lemur, Hapalemur meridionalis, in the Mandena littoral forest, southeast Madagascar. Primates, 52, 713.
Eudey, A.A. (1994) Temple and pet primates in Thailand. La Terre et la Vie—Revue d’Écologie, 49, 273280.
Fa, J.E., Juste, J., Perez del Val, J. & Castroviejo, J. (1995) Impact of market hunting on mammal species in Equatorial Guinea. Conservation Biology, 9, 11071115.
Golden, C.D. (2009) Bushmeat hunting and use in the Makira Forest, north-eastern Madagascar: a conservation and livelihoods issue. Oryx, 43, 386392.
Goodman, S.M. (1993) A reconnaissance of Ile Sainte Marie, Madagascar: the status of the forest, avifauna, lemurs and fruit bats. Biological Conservation, 65, 205212.
Grenoble, R. (2013) Ploughshare tortoise smugglers caught with 10 percent of entire species at Thailand airport. Http:// [accessed 6 March 2014].
Harcourt, C. & Thornback, J. (eds) (1990) Lemurs of Madagascar and the Comoros. The IUCN Red Data Book. IUCN, Cambridge, UK.
Harvey, P.H. & Clutton-Brock, T.H. (1985) Life history variation in primates. Evolution, 39, 559581.
Hawkins, A.F.A., Chapman, P., Ganzhorn, J.U., Bloxam, Q.M.C., Barlow, S.C. & Tonge, S.J. (1990) Vertebrate conservation in Ankarana Special Reserve, northern Madagascar. Biological Conservation, 54, 83110.
Hekkala, E.R., Rakotondratsima, M. & Vasey, N. (2007) Habitat and distribution of the ruffed lemur, Varecia, north of the Bay of Antongil in northeastern Madagascar. Primate Conservation, 22, 8995.
Ilo Project (2003) The Commune Census, 2001. Http:// [accessed 6 March 2014].
INSTAT (Institut National de la Statistique) [Madagascar] & ORC Macro (2005) Enquête Démographique et de Santé, Madagascar 2003–2004: Rapport de synthèse. INSTAT and ORC Macro, Calverton, USA.
IUCN (2013) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species v. 2013.2. Http:// [accessed 6 March 2014].
Jolly, A., Oliver, W.L.R. & O'Connor, S.M. (1982) Population and troop ranges of Lemur catta and Lemur fulvus at Berenty, Madagascar: 1980 census. Folia Primatologica, 39, 115123.
Jones, J.P.G., Andriamarovololona, M.M. & Hockley, N. (2008) The importance of taboos and social norms to conservation in Madagascar. Conservation Biology, 22, 976986.
Jones-Engel, L., Schillaci, M.A., Engel, G., Paputungan, U. & Froehlich, J.W. (2005) Characterizing primate pet ownership in Sulawesi: implications for disease transmission. In Special Topics in Primatology Volume 4. Commensalism and Conflict: The Human–Primate Interface (eds Patterson, J.D. & Williams, J.), pp. 113137. The American Society of Primatologists, Seattle, USA.
Junge, R.E., Williams, C.V. & Campbell, J. (2009) Nutrition and behavior of lemurs. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice, 12, 339348.
Karesh, W.B., Cook, R.A., Bennett, E.L. & Newcomb, J. (2005) Wildlife trade and global disease emergence. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 11, 10001002.
Kyes, R.C., Feeroz, M.M., Aziz, M.A., Alam, S.M.R., Akhtar, F., Ahmed, S. et al. (2011) Preliminary population survey of the rhesus macaques in Barmi Bazaar, Bangladesh: survey approaches for studying urban primates. American Journal of Primatology, 73(Suppl. 1), 88.
Mittermeier, R.A., Louis, E.E. Jr, Richardson, M., Schwitzer, C., Langrand, O., Rylands, A.B. et al. (2010) Lemurs of Madagascar. 3rd edition. Conservation International, Arlington, USA.
Mutschler, T., Randrianarisoa, A.J. & Feistner, A.T.C. (2001) Population status of the Alaotran gentle lemur Hapalemur griseus alaotrensis . Oryx, 35, 152157.
Nekaris, K.A.I., Shepherd, C.R., Starr, C.R. & Nijman, V. (2010) Exploring cultural drivers for wildlife trade via an ethnoprimatological approach: a case study of slender and slow lorises (Loris and Nycticebus) in South and Southeast Asia. American Journal of Primatology, 72, 877886.
Nievergelt, C.M., Pastorini, J. & Woodruff, D.S. (2002) Genetic variability and phylogeography in the wild Alaotran gentle lemur population. Evolutionary Anthropology, 11, 175179.
Nijman, V., Nekaris, K.A.I., Donati, G., Bruford, M. & Fa, J. (2011) Primate conservation: measuring and mitigating trade in primates. Endangered Species Research, 13, 159161.
Petter, J.J. (1969) Speciation in Madagascan lemurs. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 1, 7784.
R Development Core Team (2013) R: A language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
Rajaonson, A., Ratolojanahary, M., Ratsimbazafy, J., Feistner, A. & King, T. (2010) Enquête préliminaire de la distribution des lémuriens de bambou dans et autour du Corridor forestier Fandriana-Vondrozo, Madagascar. Lemur News, 15, 3439.
Razafimanahaka, J.H., Jenkins, R.K.B., Andriafidison, D., Randrianandrianina, F., Rakotomboavonjy, V., Keane, A. & Jones, J.P.G. (2012) Novel approach for quantifying illegal bushmeat consumption reveals high consumption of protected species in Madagascar. Oryx, 46, 584592.
Rietbergen-McCracken, J. & Narayan, D. (1998) Participation and Social Assessment: Tools and Techniques. World Bank, Washington, DC, USA.
Sauther, M.L., Cuozzo, F.P., Youssouf Jacky, I.A., Fish, K.D., LaFleur, M., Ravelohasindrazana, L.A.L. & Ravoavy, J.F. (2013) Limestone cliff-face and cave use by wild ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) in southwestern Madagascar. Madagascar Conservation & Development, 8, 7380.
Schwitzer, C., King, T., Robsomanitrandrasana, E., Chamberlan, C. & Rasolofoharivelo, T. (2013) Integrating ex situ and in situ conservation of lemurs. In Lemurs of Madagascar: A Strategy for their Conservation 2013–2016 (eds Schwitzer, C., Mittermeier, R.A., Davies, N., Johnson, S., Ratsimbazafy, J., Razafindramanana, J. et al. ), pp. 146152. IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group, Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation, and Conservation International, Bristol, UK.
Schwitzer, C., Mittermeier, R.A., Johnson, S.E., Donati, G., Irwin, M., Peacock, H. et al. (2014) Averting lemur extinctions amid Madagascar's political crisis. Science, 343, 842843.
Shepherd, C.R. (2010) Illegal primate trade in Indonesia exemplified by surveys carried out over a decade in North Sumatra. Endangered Species Research, 11, 201205.
Tattersall, I. (1998) Lemurs of the Comoro Archipelago: status of Eulemur mongoz on Moheli and Anjouan, and of Eulemur fulvus on Mayotte. Lemur News, 3, 1517.
UN (1973) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. United Nations, Washington, DC, USA.
UNDP (2013) Human Development Report 2013: The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World. United Nations Development Programme, New York, USA.
United Nations Treasury (2014) UN Operational Rates of Exchange. Http:// [accessed 4 June 2014].
Vasey, N. & Tattersall, I. (2002) Do ruffed lemurs form a hybrid zone? Distribution and discovery of Varecia, with systematic and conservation implications. American Museum Novitates, 3376, 126.
Welch, C. (1996) Projects at Ivoloina and Betampona in eastern Madagascar. Lemur News, 2, 11.
Zinner, D., Ostner, J., Dill, A., Razafimanantsoa, L. & Rasoloarison, R. (2001) Results of a reconnaissance expedition in the western dry forests between Morondava and Morombe. Lemur News, 6, 1618.


Live capture and ownership of lemurs in Madagascar: extent and conservation implications

  • Kim E. Reuter (a1), Haley Gilles (a1), Abigail R. Wills (a2) and Brent J. Sewall (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed