Monday, December 08, 2008

Slender Loris

The quest for wildlife takes us to quite a few surprising areas. This year in April I was in Madurai district and vaguely remembered having read about the slender loris somewhere close by. Our quest lead us to a quaint little village on the outskirts of Dindigul. We reached the reserve forest in the late afternoon. Since the loris is a nocturnal animal, we waited for nightfall to start our trek. Nature is so abundant that even our wait proved eventful. Got a coppersmith feeding its chicks and also a couple of kingfishers. Finally after an impatient wait for 4 hours we started our trek inside of the forest. Our guide affectionately called Thatha (grandpa) was able to spot out the loris in the first 5 minutes of the trek. We went on to sight a total of 9 individuals in the two hours of trek we did.

It was a dark cloudy night. We had two pencil torches amongst the three of us (inclusive of Thatha) and my built in flash of the camera for lighting. Due to this, though good photographs were out of the question, spotting the loris was not. There was one more obstacle on our paths literally. The forest is a thorny scrub jungle and the area was littered with thorns. Long, pointed, almost 3 cms in length, it was painful enough to keep us out of range with the loris. The loris was at a clear advantage over us in this regard. The ease with which it moved over the thorny branches showed its adaption to the vegetation.

Now to other facts of the loris. Body size about 20 -25 cm in length. Weight about 125-350 gms. Sexes look alike. A lanky animal, has less fur. Color of grey brown. During the day the loris lives hiding in leaf cover or in tree hollows and ventures out only after nightfall. Has large ears , lanky legs and a white muzzle.

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