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Individual study: Adaptability of released captive-bred black-and-white ruffed lemur Varecia variegata variegata to a natural diet, Betampona Reserve, eastern Madagascar

Published source details

Britt A. & Iambana B.R. (2003) Can captive-bred Varecia variegata variegata adapt to a natural diet on release to the wild? International Journal of Primatology, 24, 987-1005


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Captive breeding and reintroduction of primates into the wild: limited free-ranging experience Primate Conservation

A controlled study in 2001 in tropical forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that diets of captive-bred, reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata with limited free-ranging experience along with other interventions, overlapped with that of the resident wild group. No statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this overlap was significant. Reintroduced lemurs (three males and one female) fed on 54 species during one year, whereas the wild group (ten individuals) fed on 109 species over four years. Reintroduced lemurs consumed less foliage than the wild group, although no statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this difference was significant. The female was born and raised in a cage at a zoo and had two years of free-ranging experience at a sanctuary before release, while all males were born and raised in a free-ranging environment at the sanctuary. Lemurs were introduced in groups into habitat already occupied by the species and were provided supplementary food during resource-scarce periods only. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Captive breeding and reintroduction of primates into the wild: born and raised in a free-ranging environment Primate Conservation

A controlled study in 1997-2001 in tropical forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that diets of captive-bred, reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that were born and raised in a free-ranging environment along with other interventions, overlapped with that of the resident wild group. No statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this difference was significant. Reintroduced lemurs (three males and two females) fed on 92 species over three years, as compared to the wild group (ten individuals) that fed on 109 species over four years. Furthermore, reintroduced lemurs consistently consumed less foliage throughout the study and less nectar in 1998 than the wild group did, although no statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this difference was significant. Two males (66%) died of malnutrition in 1998. Lemurs were born and raised in a free-ranging environment at a sanctuary before their reintroduced. Lemurs were introduced in groups into habitat already occupied by the species and provided supplementary food during resource-scarce periods. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Regularly provide supplementary food to primates during resource scarce periods only Primate Conservation

A controlled study in 2001 in tropical forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that captive-bred, reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that had limited free-ranging experience before release and that were occasionally provided with supplementary food alongside other interventions, had diets that partly overlapped with that of the resident wild group. Reintroduced lemurs (three males and one female) fed on 54 species during a single year, compared to the wild group (ten individuals) that fed on 109 species over four years. Reintroduced lemurs consumed less foliage than the wild group, although no statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this difference was significant. Supplementary food was provided for three months after release and for four months during the wet/cool season during which time their body mass decreased by 300–500g (10–16%). Lemurs were introduced in groups into habitat already occupied by the species. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Regularly provide supplementary food to primates during resource scarce periods only Primate Conservation

A controlled study in 1997-2001 in tropical forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that diets of captive-bred, reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that were born and raised in a free-ranging environment and provided with food during resource-scarce periods along with other interventions, overlapped with that of the resident wild group. No statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this overlap was significant. Reintroduced lemurs (three males and two females) fed on 92 species over three years, as compared to the wild group (ten individuals) that fed on 109 species over four years. Reintroduced lemurs consumed less foliage throughout the study and less nectar in 1998 than the wild group, although no statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this difference was significant. Two of five reintroduced individuals (both males) died of malnutrition in 1998. Supplementary food provisioning ceased two months after release, but was reinstated for four months following the death of the two males. Lemurs were introduced in groups into habitat already occupied by the species. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Captive breeding and reintroduction of primates into the wild: born and reared in cages Primate Conservation

A controlled study in 1998-2001 in tropical forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that diets of captive-bred, reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that were born and reared in cages along with other interventions, did not overlap with that of the resident wild group in the first year after release. Captive-bred lemurs (one male and two females) fed only on approximately half of the plant species (N=57) that the wild group (ten individuals) fed on (N=109). Captive-bred lemurs did not closely follow the dietary choices and seasonal changes exhibited by the wild group, although no statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this difference was significant. Reintroduced lemurs were born and raised in cages at zoos and had limited (several months) free-ranging experience at a sanctuary before release. They were released in groups into habitat already occupied by the species and were provided with supplementary food during three years. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Regularly and continuously provide supplementary food to primates Primate Conservation

A controlled study in 1998-2001 in tropical forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that diets of captive-bred, reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata provided with supplementary food during the entire study period alongside other interventions did not overlap with that of the resident wild group in the first year after release. Captive-bred lemurs (one male and two females) fed only on around half of the plant species (N=57) that the wild group (ten individuals) fed on (N=109). Captive-bred lemurs remained dependent on supplementary food as their range was too restricted to encounter sufficient food and showed no inclination to increase their range despite efforts to encourage it. Lemurs were released in groups into habitat already occupied by the species. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Reintroduce primates into habitat where the species is present Primate Conservation

A controlled study in 1998–2001 in tropical forest in Madagascar found that captive-bred black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that were reintroduced into habitat already occupied by the species, along with other interventions, did not have a similar diet to that of the resident wild group one year after release. Captive-bred lemurs (one male and two females) fed only on slightly more than half of the plant species (57 plant species) that the wild group (ten individuals) fed on (109 plant species). Captive-bred lemurs did not closely follow the dietary choices and seasonal changes in diet exhibited by the wild group, although no statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this difference was significant. Lemurs were released in groups and were provided with supplementary food. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Reintroduce primates in groups Primate Conservation

A controlled study in 1998-2001 in tropical forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that diets of captive-bred, reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that were born and reared in cages and introduced in groups along with other interventions, did not overlap with that of the resident wild group in the first year post-release. No statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this overlap was significant. Captive-bred lemurs (one male and two females) fed only on slightly more than half of the plant species (N=57 plants) that the wild group (N=10 individuals) fed on (N=109 plants). Captive-bred lemurs did not closely follow the dietary choices and seasonal changes in diet exhibited by the wild group. Lemurs were provided with supplementary food during the entire study period. They were reintroduced into habitat already occupied by the species. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Reintroduce primates in groups Primate Conservation

A controlled study in 2001 in tropical forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that diets of captive-bred, reintroduced black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that had limited free-ranging experience before release and that were reintroduced in groups along with other interventions, overlapped with that of the resident wild group. Reintroduced lemurs (three males and one female) fed on 54 species during a single year, as compared to the wild group (N=10 individuals) that fed on 109 species over four years. Furthermore, reintroduced lemurs consistently consumed less foliage than the wild group did throughout the study, although no statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this difference was significant. Lemurs were provided with supplementary food during resource-scarce periods only and were reintroduced into habitat already occupied by the species. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Reintroduce primates in groups Primate Conservation

A controlled study in 1997-2001 in tropical forest in Betampona Reserve, Madagascar found that diets of captive-bred, black-and-white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata variegata that were born and raised in a free-ranging environment and reintroduced in groups along with other interventions, overlapped with that of the resident wild group. No statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this overlap was significant. Reintroduced lemurs (three males and two females) fed on 92 species over three years, as compared to the wild group (N= 10 individuals) that fed on 109 species over four years. Reintroduced lemurs consumed less foliage throughout the study and less nectar in 1998 than the wild group did. No statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this difference was significant. Two reintroduced males died of malnutrition in 1998 due to climate change and seasonal food shortages. Lemurs were reintroduced into habitat already occupied by the species and were provided supplementary food during resource-scarce periods. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.