Southern red-fronted brown lemur - male closeup, Kirindy Reserve, Madagascar
Here's some shots of a species extremely common to see in Kirindy, the (Southern)Red-fronted brown lemur. These diurnal species are active and loud as they move through the dry forest and not shy of people at all. They are fun to watch and hear, as they make a pig-like grunt noise.
Brown lemurs, its (sub)species and many common names lead to a lot of confusion in species identification, therefore I'd like to give some guidance:
The Brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus) can be considered the historic species complex. It used to lump together several sub species that now have become full species. Today, Eulemur fulvus is a species with a specific appearance and distribution. You can recognize it by its relatively dull appearance, both the male and female have a largely dark face:
The red-fronted lemur used to be considered a sub species of brown lemur yet in 2001, it got full species status as Eulemur rufus. It was easy to distinguish from the Brown Lemur for the males have a rufous crown.
Then in 2008, Eulemur rufus was further split into 2 seperate species:
- Eulemur rufus, with common names: Red lemur, Rufous brown lemur
- Eulemur rufifrons, with common names: Red-fronted lemur, Red-fronted brown lemur
If you look at the pile of common names:
- Brown Lemur
- Common Brown Lemur
- Red Lemur
- Rufous Brown Lemur
- Red-fronted Lemur
- Red-fronted Brown Lemur
...it's easy to get confused. Even more so when even guides use these common names very casually, they may even still call a red-fronted lemur a brown lemur. The solution is to be explicit as possible:
Eulemur rufus - Northern red-fronted lemur
Eulemur rufifrons - Southern red-fronted brown lemur
The two species having a red front can largely be dinstinguished by distribution. In most cases, you can look up the site/park where you spotted it and find information on which one occurs there, as they don't really overlap in the wild.
In non-wild spottings it may be harder to tell the difference. The only difference I'm aware of is that the male of Eulemur rufus has a slightly more vibrant (orange) crown compared to Eulemur rufifrons, yet it's probably best to ask locally which one it is.
The red-fronted lemur, also known as the red-fronted brown lemur or southern red-fronted brown lemur, is a species of lemur from Madagascar. Until 2001, it was considered a subspecies of the common brown lemur, ''E. fulvus''. In 2001, ''E. fulvus'' was split into several separate species, including ''Eulemur rufus'', in which this species was included. In 2008, ''E. rufus'' was split into two species, the red lemur and the red-fronted lemur . ''E. rufus'' covers the population on the west coast.. more