With its dark chocolate brown or black head and creamy white body (2), the crowned sifaka appears to be a highly distinctive lemur; however, it was once considered a subspecies of either Propithecus verreauxi (Verreaux's Sifaka) or Propithecus deckenii (Van Der Decken’s Sifaka), and has only recently been given full species status, based on its unique cranial features. Its creamy white fur may be tinged with golden brown on the shoulders, upper limbs, upper chest and back, lightening to golden yellow towards the abdomen. This discoloration, more prominent in male crowned sifakas, is caused by secretions from glands on the chest. The hairless face is dark grey to black, sometimes with a paler patch across the bridge of the nose, and whitish ear tufts that stand out against the dark, dense fur of the head. Although sifakas gain their name from the shee-fak call they make to maintain contact within their group, sifakas are actually rather silent animals.
Distribution and Habitat Edit
The crowned sifaka is found in the mangroves and dry deciduous and riparian forests of northwest Madagascar. Surveys have shown in the northern range of its habitat the crowned sifaka inhabits the forest between the Mahavavy River and Betsiboka River and extending south to the region of highly fragmented forests around the Tsiribihina River, Mahajilo River, and Mania River. Total population size in 2014 was estimated as 4,000-36,000 individuals, at densities of 46-309 individuals/km2 in different-sized forest fragments, with an average group size of 2-8 individuals per group. Estimates remain uncertain since only part of the range has been surveyed so far. Total area of occupancy is thought to be 2,690-4,493 km2.
The crowned sifaka is a diurnal animal, primarily active during the day. It spends a majority of its time resting with the remainder mostly devoted to feeding. It frequents the upper stories of large trees and often is found in tree crowns. Depending on season, it feeds on young or mature leaves, ripe and unripe fruits and great quantities of flowers.
Group size is between 2 and 8 individuals and contains a balanced number of females and males in each group. One dominant female is found in each group. Social behavior within groups entails mostly allogrooming of other group members, agonistic behavior, and play as well as scent marking and call-localization. Reproduction is seasonal, with gestation lasting 5–6 months and estrus lasting 4 months. Within the typical estrus period a female may have 3-5 estruses per reproductive season. Reproduction in the crowned sifaka has rarely been observed, and what little is known about it has been documented in the captive population at the Paris Zoological Park.