© CI/Photo by Russell A. Mittermeier
The sifakas are relatively large lemurs that are diurnal, or active during the day. These lemurs are called sifakas because of the sound of their distinct “si-fak!” call. They have extremely long legs and their favorite position to “hang out” in is vertical, clinging to tree trunks. Those same long legs help them leap powerfully from tree to tree, sometimes resembling a basketball player at the apex of a rim-rattling slam-dunk. But on the ground sifakas are equally captivating, bounding along in a comical sideways dance with arms flailing overhead for balance.
Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) has an amazing ability to leap effortlessly among the cactus-like Didiereaceae tree, which is covered with very hard, sharp spines. Exactly how this animal moves so gracefully through the dangerous vegetation without injury is still a mystery to scientists.
ACTIVITY: Find the sifaka on our interactive primate tree.
Coquerel’s sifaka (Propithecus coquereli), with its black face and white tufts across its muzzle, eats things like flowers, fruit, bark, deadwood in the wet season, and leaves and buds in the dry season. In fact, as many as 98 different plant species have been recorded as part of the diet of the Coquerel’s sifaka.