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Propithecus candidus A. Grandidier, 1871

Scientific name: 
Scientist name: 
A. Grandidier, 1871
Simpona, Simpona fotsy, Simpony
Silky Sifaka
Other english: 
Silky Simpona
Propithèque soyeux



Propithecus candidus is a large white sifaka from northeastern Madagascar. It has a head-body length of 48–54 cm, a tail length of 45–51 cm, a total length of 93–105 cm, and a weight of 5.0–6.0 kg (Lehman et al., 2005a). Males and females are similar in size. The pelage is long and silky, which gives this species its common English name. It is a truly remarkable and attractive creature that looks more like a plush toy than a real animal. In some individuals, silver-gray tints may appear on the crown, back and limbs, and the pygal region (at the base of the tail) is sometimes yellow. The muzzle and face are bare, the skin a mix of pink and black, with some individuals having all pink and some all black faces. The tips of the naked black or pink ears protrude just beyond the white fur of the head and cheeks. This species does not occur with any other sifaka and cannot be confused with any other lemur within its range.

The silky sifaka may be the only member of its genus to show extreme individual variation in partial skin pigmentation loss, known as leucism. Although all infants are believed to be born with predominantly black faces, with age some individuals lose their pigmentation and show varying degrees of pink patches. The first western explorer to observe the silky sifaka (Alfred Grandidier, in 1871) believed that it was an albino subspecies of the diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema). We now know that silky sifakas are not albinos. All individuals have some skin pigment, and photo-phobic individuals have never been observed (Milne-Edwards and Grandidier, 1875; Cousins, 2007).

Unlike P. perrieri and P. edwardsi, where adult males and females are difficult to distinguish, adult male and female P. candidus can be readily distinguished from one another by the color of the fur on the upper chest. Adult males have a large brown patch on their chest that results from scent-marking with the sternal-

gular gland. As rates of male scent-marking increase during the mating season, the patch on the male’s chest becomes larger and may even cover the entire front torso to the abdomen (Patel, 2006a).