Not many records of sighting of lorises in and around the scrub jungles in Chennai are available

Naturalists are excited after sighting a good number of slender lorises, rare and endangered arboreal primates, on the Kalakshetra campus. A detailed study on the primates has been taken up by members of the Madras Naturalists' Society (MNS).

G. Vijay Kumar, secretary of the MNS, said in July last year students of Kalakshetra saw the movement of some animals on tree and sought the help of MNS members to identify them .

When the members visited Kalakshetra campus, they were taken by surprise by the presence of a large number of the arboreal primates.

Following the sighting, they approached ATREE, a Bangalore-based nature research organisation, to fund a study on the campus. The organisation provided financial assistance to the tune of Rs.70,000. The six-month study began in middle of January this year and will be completed by July.

A total of 20 lorises, including infants, were sighted by the MNS members, who went around the campus between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. The habitat in which they managed to survive needed to be protected and the lorises in Kalakshetra are wild ones, he said.

The MNS members used headlights covered with red cellophane paper while studying them. As they are very sensitive to light, shining lights directly on their face will stun them and they will be unable to feed due to this. Hence, the members tied a paper around the lights to avoid disturbance to them, he said.

K.V. Sudhakar, member of the MNS, said there were not many records of sighting of lorises in and around the scrub jungles in Chennai. One had to travel to Mamandur near Renigunta in Andhra Pradesh to sight them. Similarly, not much information was available about this arboreal primate, except a detailed study by P.J. Sanjeva Raj of the Madras Christian College during 1950s.