Illegal Trade of Wild-Captured Lemur Catta Within Madagascar

Folia Primatol (Basel). 2019;90(4):199-214. doi: 10.1159/000496970. Epub 2019 May 8.


Lemur catta is the most reported illegal captive lemur. We document 286 L. catta that were held in illegal captive conditions in Madagascar. Coastal tourist destinations are "hot spots" for sightings. Many of the L. catta reported were in businesses (49%) and were perceived to be held captive for the purpose of generating income (41%). Infant/juvenile L. catta were overwhelmingly observed annually in December (41%) and may suffer high mortality rates given that they are not weaned during this month of the year. Population growth modeling suggests that known capture rates may be sustainable in all but small populations of 500 individuals and when infants/juveniles are targeted. However, of the seven remaining populations of L. catta with more than 100 individuals, only one is known to contain more than 500 animals, and we present evidence here that infants/juveniles are targeted. Moreover L. catta face significant other threats including habitat loss, bushmeat hunting, and climate change. Several actions could reduce the illegal capture and ownership of L. catta in Madagascar such as tourist behavior change initiatives, enforcement of laws, and alternative livelihoods for local people. These interventions are urgently needed and could be adapted to protect other exploited wildlife in the future.

Keywords: Conservation; Pet; Ring-tailed lemur; Strepsirrhine; Wildlife trafficking.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Commerce*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Female
  • Lemur*
  • Madagascar
  • Population Dynamics