Nocturnal lorises on a slender leash
Recent scientific findings estimate that a few hundred slender lorises are inhabiting some green patches of Bangalore despite the fading green cover.
They are restricted to 7-10 pockets in the city that includes IISc campus, UAS campus, CPRI campus, Sankey Tank forest, Jalahalli, the Valley School on Kanakpura Road, Uttarahalli, etc. They survive in small pockets hidden from the city dwellers as they are solitary and nocturnal. With the city still sustaining Neem, Eucalyptus, Acacia, Jatropa, and a few other species, lorises are cohabiting with man in the urban precincts preying on insects, shoots and wild fruits.
“It is a dismal situation and these creatures of the dark may one day quietly disappear because of the vanishing greenery and the destruction of their habitat,” says Sindhu Radhakrishna, Associate Professor, School of Natural Sciences and Engineering, National Institute of Advanced Sciences. She has been researching Slender Lorises for the past 13 years. Studying their behavior, ecology and the conservation threats, she says there is no canopy contiguity in the city of Bangalore which is absolutely necessary for its survival.
The last one year, Bangalore saw lot of sightings of this endangered primates because there has been large scale felling of trees for a slew of projects like widening of roads, flyovers, underpasses, Metro Rail project in the past five years. “We have road kills too because they are very small and get caught in the traffic while only some of them have been rescued by wildlife activists. There have been instances where labourers have picked up these animals and handed them over to conservationists.”
But their numbers have definitely come down due to a variety of reasons : poaching, relished for its meat and its big saucer eyes for medicinal purposes, habitat destruction and isolation to cluster populations. With the habitat becoming untenable and the city traffic increasing in the heart of the city, the lorises have started migrating to the outskirts now.