at several places in Karnataka: the campus of the Indian Institute of Science, the Ramakrishna Mission Ashram at Shivanahalli, and at Nagavalli village, in Tumkur District.
Yesterday, we got a call from
B V Gundappa ,
affectionately called "Gundappa Sir" or "Gundappa Master" (he teaches in Nagavalli village), who has been caring for these shy, elusive creatures, and raising local awareness about them, so that they are not poached or killed.
Here are some facts about Slender Lorises, which are called "thEvAngu" in Tamizh, and "kAdupApA" (baby of the forest) in Kannada, from the wiki:
The gray slender loris (Loris lydekkerianus) is a species of primate in the family Loridae. It is found in India and Sri Lanka. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.
Despite the slew of studies on their behaviour and ecology in the last decade, they still remain among the least known of all primate species] Like other lorises, they are nocturnal and emerge from their roost cavities only at dusk.
They are mainly insectivorous. In southern India, the nominate race is often found in acacia and tamarind dominated forests or scrubs near cultivations. Males hold larger home ranges than females. They are usually solitary while foraging, and it is rare for them to be seen in pairs or groups. However they may roost in groups of up to 7, that include young of the recent and older litters. Adult males and females have individual home ranges and sleeping group associations are usually composed of a female and her offspring. They communicate with a range of vocalizations and also use urine and scent marking.
Although considered a Least Concern on the IUCN Red List and classified under Schedule I (Part 1) of the Indian Wildlife Act, 1972, the threat to these primates is increasing. Loris is used to make love potions, treat leprosy and eye ailments.Habitat fragmentation is also a threat to the loris population, as well as loss of acacia trees, which is a preferred tree species for the loris.
Well, that's all the information. We were privileged to be able to see this animal in daylight!
Gundappa Master said that an adult male had been found in the home of a villager in Hebbur, about 11 km from his home. By the time we reached his place, he had rescued the creature and brought it home. It was decided to release the Loris in the heavy-foliage Devarayanadurga State Forest.
We were eager to take a look at the little fellow before we took him to the release area, and Gundappa Sir opened the shoe box in which he'd kept him, ready to be taken on his journey to freedom.
An arm and a leg show themselves:
At last, we could see the little primate. He didn't seem stressed at all.
Gundappa Sir sets off on the release. The sack contains a Bronzeback Tree Snake, also rescued from a village house, to be released.
We went to the Devarayana Durga State Forest, and went into the interior area, away from the road. Here, in a rocky clearing, Gundappa Master opened the box again:
Gundappa Master takes out the little primate on a twig.
Here it is, climbing around on the twig:
In Tamizh, we say, "thEvAngu mAthiri muzhikkAthEy!" (Don't stare at me like a Loris!)...now you can understand that!
Yash (in the pic), Gopal and I took photos. Chandu was content to enjoy the moment.
Gundappa Sir has been dealing with these animals for many years now, yet treats them with gentleness.
He shows the animal on the twig; it's an adult male, about two years old, he says. (I am asking in the video.)
In the video above, you can also see the Loris using its urine to wet its feet. Gundappa Sir said that this was partly territory marking behaviour, and partly to cool its feet. Something else that I learned about this creature!
He puts it on a small bush, first, and it looks around, getting its bearings:
He finally releases the animal into a tree with plenty of foliage, where it proceeds to promptly hide itself:
Off it goes:
Shortly after its release, the Kadupapa was hidden in the foliage. A pair of huge eyes looked out at us for a while..and then he was gone, the Baby of the Forest, elusive as ever.
Here we are, trying to see whether it might be a leopard that is causing so much of alarm calls amongst the Hanuman Langurs around:
Now we are satisfied (we didn't see any leopard) and happy!
Here's a warm salute to Gundappa Sir and the beautiful animal he works to protect.