The Mysore slender loris (scientific name: Loris lydekkerianus lydekkerianus) – a curious eyed nocturnal primate sustained by large undisturbed networks of tree canopy; surviving on insects and the occasional fruit.
Current Range: Southern and eastern India (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu) and Sri Lanka
Locally: Bangalore outskirts: Magadi, Tumkur rd, Mysore Road, Kanakapura rd, Hosur rd.
As late as 1990s, reports and anecdotes place them in gardens, university campus’, roadsides and all over Bangalore city at night.
Spotting a slender loris:
When: Nocturnal, they rest in groups in the day and forage at night. Communicate with olfactory and visual cues at a distance of 20m, and use a range of vocalisations too.
Listen up: A shrill whistle of 3-4 seconds from the canopy
Watch out: They can be spotted by their eye shine – a bright, orange glint that flashes in response to a low torch beam scan directed towards high tree branches. These native canopy dwellers can be found in tamarind dominated plantation and scrub jungle near human settlements.
Bangalore was a mosaic of green, made up over many centuries, of the urban forests, city parks, botanical gardens (Lal Bagh), forested campuses of educational institutions & hospitals, landscaped residential layouts and the vast surrounding scrub jungles that offered suitable shelter for the slender loris.
These shy, solitary monkeys depended on this contiguous canopy cover for resting, feeding, foraging and raising their young. Accelerated and unplanned urbanisation has limited them to fragmented forests that are not large enough for communities of loris to live and procreate.
Additional threats to survival:
Road kill, traditional medicine, pet trade, superstitious killing, electrocuted on un-insulated power lines
Slender Loris as a flagship species:
They are one of the least known primates, but are considered a flagship species for conservation of the scrub and dry deciduous forests of South India. Why? Because in order to be able to preserve or restore ideal slender loris habitat – a gentle primate with very specific living requirements – we have to protect the biodiversity of the ecosystem at large. Taking steps to support existing green belts and cultivating new ones to restore the network of tree canopy is a start in the right direction.
Read more about the loris here: Slender loris in superstition
Featured image: Slender loris on eucalyptus by Sandeep GA