Vanishing Species – Slow Loris


An Article by Mohan Pai
SLOW LORIS
Nycticebus Bengalensis

 

A favourite animal of the pet trade, in Japan, a slow loris will cost you between $1,500 and $4,500

The Slow Loris is a mysterious creature that moves slowly though skillfully through the forest at night. These beautiful animals are marked with large eyes and bold stripes. Solitary creatures, Slow Lorises are active mainly at night. They forage for tender shoots and fruit, eating insects and bird eggs as well. Some are thought to eat small vertebrate animals. Territorial marking is achieved with urine scenting. However, it is not uncommon for the territories of males to overlap those of females. If a Slow Loris feels threatened, it releases a foul smelling musk that can become toxic when this secretion is combined with the saliva of the primate. In the daytime, Slow Lorises sleep curled up with their heads tucked into their legs. While eating, Slow Lorises use their hands and often hang from branches with their legs so they can hold their food. They are adept climbers, well adapted to arboreal life. Slow Lorises use a grooming claw on their first toes to keep their fur in order. They also use their tongues and mouths to groom themselves.

Most Slow Lorises weigh about three pounds (one and a half kilograms). They are usually between 10.5 and 15 inches (25 to 40 centimeters) long and their bodies have plump appearances. Slow Lorises have very large eyes circled by dark rings. White lines are seen between the Slow Loris’s eyes. Their bodies are predominantly white or very light gray in color. A darker stripe, usually of brown or reddish brown, runs down the back from the crown. The muzzles of Slow Lorises are relatively short and round. They have opposable thumbs. The tail is a mere stump.
By the time they are between 9 and 18 months old, most Slow Lorises are sexually mature. It is normal for them to reproduce about once every year to year and a half. The average litter contains one or two infants, and the gestation period lasts about 191 days. The baby Slow Lorises cling to the underside of their mother at birth. They are light gray in color and have lighter limbs and hands. While the mother Slow Loris forages for food, her infants cling to a branch or are placed in a nest. It is thought that the father or older siblings may aid in the rearing of infants. By the time they are about 11 weeks old, the infant will begin to acquire the darker coloration of an adult. Though young Slow Lorises are capable of consuming solid food when they are ten days old, they normally continue to nurse for three to six months after birth. Their life-expectancy is up to 14 years.

There are three species of slow loris and are classified as the genus Nycticebus. These slow moving primates range from Borneo and the southern Philippines in Southeast Asia, through India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Southern China (Yunnan area) and Thailand.Like all lorises, slow lorises are nocturnal and arboreal animals that prefer the tops of the trees. Also, they have slow, deliberate movements and a powerful grasp that makes them very difficult to remove from branches. They live as solitaries or in small family groups, and mark their territory with urine.Slow lorises can produce a toxin which they mix with their saliva and use as protection against enemies. Mothers will lick this toxin onto their offspring before leaving them to search for food. The toxin is produced by glands on the insides of their elbows. The lorises lick or suck it into their mouths and deliver it when they bite. The toxin is not known to be fatal to man, but causes a painful swelling.Slow lorises are opportunistic carnivores, typically eating insects, bird eggs and small vertebrates. With their slow quiet movements, they creep to their prey, in order to catch it with a lightning-quick snatch. They also eat fruits, but rarely.

In India, the Slow loris inhabits all the northeast states, with the northwestern limit of its range being the southward bend of Brahmaputra river. Their preferred habitats are tropical and subtropical evergreen and semi-evergreen rainforests with continuous dense canopies. They also prefer forest edges, which have a higher density of insect prey. The numbers are very small and the limited survey conducted by the Indo-US primate project (1999) indicated their presence in few isolated pockets only.

The scale of the threat is also unclear. Population estimates are often based on small surveys, and the official Red List of Threatened Species notes a lack of data from many areas, although a more recent specialist workshop categorised all five species as either Endangered or Vulnerable to extinction. Nobody knows the scale of the international loris trade either. Between 1998 and 2006, Japanese authorities seized 363 animals, while Thai, Indonesian and Singaporean officials uncovered 358 specimens bound for Japan.

References: Wikipedia

 

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http://mohanpaisarticles.blogspot.com/
http://biodiversity-mohanpai.blogspot.com/
http://delhigreens.com/2008/03/10/whither-the-wilderness/
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