The Golden-crowned sifaka is one of the most rare lemurs on the island of Madagascar and is the smallest out of the three sifaka species. Exclusive to Madagascar like all lemurs, the Golden-crowned sifaka is estimated to have a population of around 6 – 10,000 and are restricted to a handful of broken and isolated forest ranges. Currently classed as critically endangered the Golden-crowned sifaka are losing their habitat to agriculture and logging. Human expanse coupled with hunting is causing the population to decline.
The Golden-crowned sifaka’s navigates their forest habitat with masterful skill spending most of their time up in the trees though rarely above 700 meters. Its not hard to spot a Golden-crowned sifaka because of their distinct coloration that stands out with creamy white, orange/gold and dark black.
Typically the Golden-crowned sifaka is predominantly covered with creamy white fur with golden orange highlights on its head, shoulders, cheat and sometimes rump. Its face is hairless and exposes a dark brown, almost black skin that stands out in contrast to their bright golden orange eyes.
The diet of the Golden-crowned sifaka is very varied consisting of different fruit, shoots, leaves and in the dry season when food is scarce tree bark is occasionally consumed. Although the Golden-crowned sifaka is mostly active during the daytime they have been known to sometimes break this rule and have been seen active before dawn and just after dusk, especially in the rainy season.
Golden-crowned sifaka are a very social species who live in family groups of up to 10 individuals, though most groups average at around 6 – 8 individuals. The family groups are made up of both sexes and include parents and children, however usually just one female breeds with the active male. The Golden-crowned sifaka’s mating season starts in January and after successful breeding the female will give birth to one offspring around June. The young Golden-crowned sifaka stick with their mother for about 5 or 6 months before gaining the courage to move around freely.
Both male and female Golden-crowned sifaka’s are territorial and make efforts to mark their territory. Only in the mating season do the males leave the group to breed with other females and it is thought that the females stay with the same group throughout their lives.