Hello there… I’m Loris. The most adorable animal you’d ever see in Sri Lanka, my only home. Let me introduce myself a bit. I am one of a kind. Not very popular among humans. Some people call me “the baby of the forest”, probably because of my size. I live with my friends in the cooler side of the country, they call it the wet zone. There is lots of food to eat there. We usually sleep a lot. It’s our way, being nocturnal. We hunt, eat, sleep and spend our days in many different ways. Recently I’ve been feeling a bit lonely and sad. Our homes are getting destroyed and only a few of us are left now. Some of them are being cared for at the Pinnawala Open Zoo. As you can see, I’m one captivating animal.There is lots of news you’d like to know. Some, even I’m curious about. Let’s go find out…
Large round eyes, small hands, and feet, slender limbs, The Red Slender Lorises are one of the most social animals you’d see in the southwestern wet zones of Sri Lanka. It is also considered one of the oldest living primates in the world. Despite being really small animals, these lorises show a relation to us humans.
But you’ll be surprised how little people know about this animal. It’s not the most famous or eye-catching animal in a forest, but it contributes vastly to the balance of the ecosystem. Lorises are nocturnal animals that are adapted to an arboreal lifestyle. Because Lorises are primates that have a pincer-like grip which enables them to grasp onto branches and move from tree to tree. They also have skeletal and anatomical modifications which assist them in their arboreal lifestyle.
What is unique about Loris tardigradus? Did you know that Lorises are venomous? In fact, they are considered the only known venomous primates in the world. Despite being adorable little animals Loris tardigradus are also very skilled hunters. Forward-facing huge eyes give them excellent night vision and help them to find food easily. They mainly prey on insects and small lizards and geckos. Even though they usually move slowly, in the presence of a predator lorises have the ability to dramatically increase their speed.
Recently these animals have faced many threats. Because Loris tardigradus is one of the rarest animals in the world, they have been subjected to the illegal wildlife trade and they’ve become one of the primary targets of animal poachers. Also ever since the past Lorises were mistreated by some villagers. Even in Sri Lankan folklore, it’s been said that people used almost all body parts of Lorises for certain traditional medicine, black magic, and voodoo. One of the famous myths is tears of Lorises have magical powers. These myths led a wonderful creature to the brink of extinction. Endless deforestation activities deprived them of their homes. Electric wires and Open roads have become Death traps for these animals.
For the reasons mentioned above Lorises are considered Endangered in the Global Red List. The red slender loris is listed in the CITES Appendix II and nationally protected by the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance Act No.2, 1937, and its subsequent amendments.
Awareness about this animal and its state is pretty low in Sri Lanka, as the youth of our country we have the chance to save these amazing creatures. Spreading awareness, Habitat restoration, Organizing fundraising activities, Supporting conservation education, Providing facilities for further research are some of the actions we can take.
“Because of man’s apathy and ignorance, we are now staring down at the face of extinction. Our habitats are getting destroyed drastically. I can still hear the screams of my friends and family at night. Like any other creature, we too fear death. You have the power, the ability to undo what others have done…to save us from extinction.”
By. Rtr Ruchila Wijerathne