Who’s looking at who

29. June 2013

The Slender Loris (Loris tardigradus) is a Sri Lankan endemic and an important flagship species for the Knuckles Range.

According to IUCN Red List estimates, this species has been reduced to fewer than 1,500 individuals.The Loris can also be found in Wilpattu, last week we were able to spot one in our campsite at night.The bad news is that the lorises depend on timberlands, which have been disappearing fast. Conventionally, their habitats were altered to tea plantation as well as other agricultural conversion, illegal encroachment, logging, or fire wood collection.

As well, a study published in the American Journal of Primatology, states that the Native people have always believed that parts of the slender loris have some medicinal  powers, as well as Slender Loris body parts may ward off the ‘evil eye’ and be used to curse enemies. Even that their tears are a secret ingredient in love potions. Poor things! The slender loris is about the size of a chipmunk, represented by saucer-like brown eyes. They flank a long nose which ends in a heart-shaped knob. The eyes are bordered by dark-brown to black circles of fur, while the bond of the nose is white. It has a petty jaw, ears are huge and round and its coat is light red-brown or gray-brown on its back and dirty white on its chest and belly. They have short finger nails on its digits. The second digit on the hand and foot are very tiny. They move on the same plane as the thumb, which helps them hold twigs.

It is an arboreal animal and spends most of its life in trees where they can with no trouble escape predator. Their movements are leisurely and precise. They are very generous because they hunt by themselves or in pairs at night but will come together and share a food supply. They live alone or with a mate and an infant. They will sleep with up to seven other lorises in a hollow tree or sitting up in the angles of branches. They are very social at sunrise and sunset, playing and wrestling each other. Reproducing occurs twice a year; during the firsts weeks mothers carry their babies. The creatures will grasp its mom around the waist with both its legs. More mature lorises who sleep in the same tree may visit them at night to play and eat with them.The slender loris eat insects (some noxious and bad smelling), but they will also eat slugs, leaves, shoots, and occasionally eggs. Are very cunning because can stretch their long arms and legs through the sticks without warning their prey.

Losing the loris would be like milslay 20 million years of Sri Lankan natural history.