Ring-tailed lemurs are endemic to 9 forests in southern and southwestern Madagascar on the continent of Africa.
The only place where members of the Superfamily Lemuroidea, including ring-tailed lemurs, can be found in the wild is Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world situated in the Indian Ocean to the southeast of Africa.
Ring-tailed lemurs are restricted to the south and southwestern portion of the island, reaching a northern limit near the town of Morondava on the west coast and the town of Ambalavao in the east. The southeastern limit is the town of Tolagnaro on the southern coast.
Ring-tailed lemurs are found in the vicinity of nine forests: Andohahela, Andringitra, Ankilitelo, Berenty, Beza Mahafaly, Isalo, Tsimanampetsotsa, Tsirave, and Zombitse.
Ring-tailed lemurs have also been introduced to the United States on St. Catherine’s Island, Georgia as part of a project to establish a free-ranging, breeding population that could be studied and in the future could potentially serve as a source to restock parks in Madagascar.
Most field studies of ring-tailed lemurs have been conducted at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve and Berenty Private Reserve, a family-owned forest set aside in the 1940s. They’ve also been studied at Andringitra National Park, Isalo National Park, and Andohahela Nature Reserve. One particularly notable field researcher, Alison Jolly, has been conducting long-term ecological and behavioral research on ring-tailed lemurs at Berenty since the early 1960s and has contributed greatly to the knowledge of wild ring-tailed lemurs. Long-term studies have also been ongoing at Beza Mahafaly most notably conducted by Robert Sussman, Lisa Gould, and Michelle Sauther. Captive research has been conducted at the Duke University Primate Center in North Carolina since the mid-1980s and also has provided invaluable information about the species.
Sources: (Baumhofer, 2017; Cawthon Lang, 2005; Clarke, Gray, Gould, & Burrell, 2015; Godfrey, Jungers, Simons, Chatrath, & Rakotosamimanana, 1999; Gould, Sussman, & Sauther, 2003; Jolly, 2003; Mittermeier, et al., 2010; Sauther, 2012; Sussman, 1991; Swindler, 2002; Wilson & Hanlon, 2010)
Image: Mathias Appel