Highly arboreal and primarily folivorous, Indri prefer young leaves of a wide variety of plant species, but will also feed on fruits and flowers. As in other primates, soil feeding as a potential remedy to toxins in its leafy diet has also been observed in Indri.
Together with colleagues Junot and Miko, Mitsinjo’s indri whisperer Joseph Randrianatoandro has masterly managed to habituate two of the nine wild indri groups in Analamazaotra. Indri live in small family groups of a monogamous couple and its offspring. Joseph’s favourite group consists of Rambo and Maya and their young. As Indri bear offspring every two to three years, with a single infant usually born in May or June, Joseph has personally observed five of Maya’s last births.
See Joseph give his testimony to David Attenborough of his close relationship to his Indris.
See Mitsinjo’s Indris star in the BBC’s Madagascar documentary “Island of Marvels”.
Watch Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine muse about Mitsinjo’s Indris.
In all Indri origin myths there is some connection of the indri with humanity, usually through common ancestry. According to one, two brothers lived together in the forest until one of them decided to leave and cultivate the land. That brother became the first human, and the brother who stayed in the forest became the first indri. Until this day, the indri always cries in mourning for his brother who went astray.
Several research projects on Mitsinjo’s Indri population have been conducted in collaboration with foreign researchers. These especially include studies on vocalization and spatial behaviour with the Unversity of Torino and studies on indri health with the St. Louis Zoo and Duke Lemur Center.
Giacoma, C., Sorrentino, V., Rabarivola, C., Gamba, M. (2010). Sex Differences in the Song of Indri indri. International Journal of Primatology 31: 539-551.
Maretti, G., Sorrentino, V., Finomana, A., Gamba, M., Giacoma, C. (2010). Not just a pretty song: an overview of the vocal repertoire of Indri indri. Journal of Anthropological Sciences 88: 151-165.