Lemur Island: Tuesday March 6

lemur island (1/10) 19.15–20.00

This new ten-part series follows the lives of two troops of ring-tailed lemurs –the Graveyard Gang and the Tornado Troop –who live on the southeastern corner of Madagascar. The series was filmed over 12 months and features amazing footage of their daily struggles for food, shelter and dominance. Revealing the complex details of their habits and behaviour, the series includes the unprecedented footage of a ring-tailed lemur birth, and provides an insight into the challenges facing these charming prosimians on a daily basis.

At 13 years old, Pegleg is the oldest lemur of his troop –the Graveyard Gang. He is a true survivor, having once escaped the jaws of the biggest threat to lemurs, a feral dog. However, he was left maimed for life by the attack, and has been forced to adapt to life with just three limbs. With remarkable flexibility, he has survived well, but he is no longer able to participate in the fights for dominance that take place amongst the other males.

The Graveyard Gang, headed by alpha female Crystal, live peacefully in an ancient cemetery, away from the disturbances of human habitation. They have a ‘sleeping tree’, where the 14 members go to bed every night, and a meagre supply of food in the nearby cacti. But their easy routine is under threat.

They have the neighbours from hell in the Tornado Troop, a junk-food eating, scavenging, trouble-causing group of three tough lemur families. When the Tornadoes defiantly stroll onto their enemy’s territory, a vicious fight ensues, leaving the Graveyard alpha male, Blake, with a serious hand wound. His allies fight off the attackers, who nonchalantly take their leave.

Trouble is also brewing within the ranks as the females, including Crystal, come into season. For ring-tailed lemurs, this happens for just one day of the year, and causes frantic displays of machismo from the males as they fight it out for mating privileges. With Blake injured, his second-incommand Milton is the natural inheritor of alpha power – but while he and the other males busily wave their scent-filled tails at each other in a show of intimidation, a clever contestant sneakily approaches Crystal. Pegleg, a good catch thanks to his amazing survival skills, is welcomed by Crystal, and the alpha female chooses to mate with the male outsider.

It may be mating season for the lemurs, but it is rainy season for the rest of Madagascar. As the island’s vegetation flourishes in the rainfall, the lemurs can only hide and wait. A banquet of fruit is blown to the ground by the storms, and as the rain eases off, they run down and eat hungrily. For youngster Hogarth, the fruit is a rare treat – but he is so absorbed in his snack that he fails to notice a slithering predator eyeing him up for a meal of his own. Fortunately for the troop, Crystal is constantly on the alert. She spots the tree boa, and the lemurs hastily get out of its way.

The young ring-tailed lemurs have much to learn in the coming months as they battle to avoid predators, storms and starvation. Will they manage to survive, and how will they fare in the cut-throat world of lemur politics?

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