Sunday, January 22, 2012

Red Slender Loris

       The Red Slender Loris belongs to the Order: Primates (That is, we are the decedent of this animal). They occur in Africa, India and Sri Lanka. They are extremely small with Head and body length: 116-170 mm; Weight: 103-172 g. The slender loris is so-named because of its long, slender arms and legs.  Its small face is dominated by huge round eyes and prominent ears, which are thin, rounded and hairless at the edges. The soft dense fur is a grey or reddish-brown colour on the back.

Ecology: This species is among the most social of the nocturnal primates. During daylight hours the animals sleep in groups in branch tangles, or curled up on a branch with their heads between their legs. At night the animals go their separate ways, moving slowly and silently through the trees in search of food. Their large eyes provide them with excellent night vision. Although they are primarily insectivorous, lorises also eat gum, bird’s eggs and small vertebrates, such as geckos and lizards. They consume every part of their prey, including the scales and bones. The gestation period is 166-169 days, after which time the females give birth to one or two young. The young are nursed for 6-7 months. The lifespan of this species is believed to be around 15-18 years in the wild.

Population  & Status: Population estimates suggest that there are approximately 1,500 animals in 3,000 ha of extremely fragmented forests and the population is fast decreasing. This animal is classified as Endangered in the 2010 IUCN Red List of threatened species.

Threat: The species is declining as a result of habitat degradation and fragmentation. Forests in Sri Lanka are rapidly being cleared for logging, agriculture (particularly tea, rubber, cinnamon and oil palm plantations) and human settlement, leaving slender loris populations stranded in poor quality forest fragments, where there is often insufficient food and shelter. The use of agricultural pesticides may be reducing the quantity of insect prey in some areas, and accumulation of some insecticides is thought to be negatively affecting lorises.

Conservation Underway: The species is protected by law in Sri Lanka, and is listed on Appendix II of CITES. LORRIS (Land Owners Restore Rainforest in Sri Lanka) is a non-governmental organisation established in 2002 by scientists and landowners in the Pitigala area of Sri Lanka. LORRIS landowners hoping to save what remains of the country’s wet zone rainforests have pledged a portion of their private land to reforestation and a corridor project connecting remaining rainforest on either side of the boundary of Galle and Kaluthara districts in the southwestern lowland areas of Sri Lanka. Over 7000 seedlings have already been planted as part of this scheme. The organisation is also currently undertaking education and awareness programmes in the project locality, and encouraging local farmers to switch to sustainable community-based timber cultivation, and grow lesser known edible fruits, spices and medicinal plants, as well as helping to boost the income of local farmers through ecotourism activities. The Primate Conservation Society of Sri Lanka was established by a group of young Sri Lankan researchers to promote the conservation of the country’s primates (particularly lorises) and implement research activities that will lead to their long-term conservation. The society now counts as members an international team of primatologists. Members of this society are currently mapping the distribution of the slender loris in the wet zone of Sri Lanka and implementing education and awareness programmes for local people.


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