Slender Loris population faces threat due to deforestation


Picture courtesy: Angad Achappa

The significant rate of deforestation in Bangalore is leading to a sharp and steady decline in the population rate of slender loris.

Slender loris is a nocturnal animal found primarily in the forests of southern India and Sri Lanka. These lorises depend on long trees and canopies but with the ongoing urban sprawl they are facing a loss in habitat.

“The present loris population has not been quantified yet. We will be doing so as a part of the project in the future once we have a complete idea about the distribution of the loris in Bangalore,” said Vidisha Kulkarni, a core volunteer of the Urban Slender Loris Project (USLP), Bangalore.

The slender loris is currently found in very limited pockets of Bangalore such as the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) campus and Sankey tank area.

IISc was one of the nicer patches where lorises used to be found in large numbers but now due to the coming up of large buildings, reports show lorises being found as road kill or injured on the ground as they are losing connectivity due to deforestation, said Dr Sindhu Radhakrishna, who has done her doctoral research on the behavioural ecology of the slender loris.

Map showing areas of slender loris population in Bangalore

Source: Vidisha Kulkarni

A lot of undergrowth has been cleared in order to create parks in areas around Bangalore where slender lorises were primarily found, like the Sankey tank area and also near the Nagavara Lake Park.

“In Nagavara, we first went to do a survey around the end of January and again in the end of February and the change we saw was really shocking, they have cut down all the undergrowth and they are planning to make a park for the joggers,” said Vidisha Kulkarni.

Compared to now, Bangalore had a lot of forests and vegetation for the slender lorises to thrive in. However in the span of 5-10 years it has reduced significantly to almost one-tenth of what it was originally, said Arun P.V, a core volunteer of USLP.

Even though the threat to the slender loris is mainly due to habitat loss, it is not restricted to just that. Various cases of poaching and selling of slender lorises have also been recorded.

“A month ago, a poacher was caught by one of our volunteers while he was about to sell a slender loris,” said Arun. He added that these lorises are also used in a lot of superstitious practices, mainly in the rural areas of Bangalore.
“There were various reports of slender loris being used for pet trade in Russell market of Bangalore, but this has declined,” said Dr. Sindhu.

This animal has not yet come under the group of endangered animals. However, as per the surveys undertaken by the Urban Slender Loris Project, a very limited number of the slender loris population has been found till now.
A proposal has been made to declare parts of Tamil Nadu where slender loris is found as wildlife sanctuaries; however, nothing has been confirmed yet, said Dr Sindhu. 




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