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Slender loris in superstition

In the legitimate business of black magic, two kinds of people employ the slender loris:

The first are a unique breed of quacks who walk around with a loris in a wooden box and claim to tell you your fortune by placing both silver and gold bracelets before the shy (and scared) creature to make it choose. If it picks the gold (which it almost always does and is probably trained to do) the person will have to buy the gold chain in thanks, or her/his luck will be cursed.

The second type of slender-loris-abusing-con-artists price themselves at a premium to be used selectively, only for revenge and curses – they call themselves witches. They tie a personal belonging from the ‘victim’ very tightly to the arm of the slender loris who is then released. The witch convinces the seeker of revenge that the loris, being in tremendous pain, will surely curse the owner of the object tied to its arm, ruin their life to a point where it kills them. Thousands of people thus seek out the slender loris as the highest form of revenge – inflicting the curse of death.

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Unfortunately, in reality, the tightly tied armband cuts into the loris’ frail hand, stops blood circulation and the only thing that ends up dead or severely injured is the loris.

Other myths clouding awareness about the slender loris exist. In Tumkur, the unique orange glint by which you can recognise its eyes at night was taken for a ghost, wreaking havoc in surrounding villages. This was actually the locals’ first sighting / interaction with this primate about whom very little is known.

Read more about the loris here: Urban Wildlife: Slender Loris

Featured image: BBMP Forest Cell

Slender Loris (L. lydekkerianus lydekkerianus)

What?

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.

Where?

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.

Slender loris, Magadi
Slender loris, Magadi

Why Bangalore?

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