In a first in the country, Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday notified Kaduvur slender loris sanctuary covering 11,806 hectares in Karur and Dindigul districts.
Slender lorises, which are small nocturnal mammals are arboreal in nature as they spend most of their life on trees. The species acts as a biological predator of pests in agricultural crops and benefits farmers.
Listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Slender Loris has a wide range of ecological roles to play in the terrestrial ecosystem.
The survival of the species depends on its habitat improvement, conservation efforts and mitigation of threats, said Supriya Sahu, additional chief secretary, Environment, Climate Change and Forests, in a statement.
Realising the need for immediate conservation of this species, the State government identified forest areas measuring 11,800 hectares in Karur and Dindigul districts as important habitats, she added.
The Kadavur slender loris sanctuary is to cover Vedasandur, Dindigul East and Natham taluks in Dindigul district and Kadavur taluk in Karur district.
Earlier in April, an announcement on the establishment of India’s first wildlife sanctuary for slender loris in the State was made in the Legislative Assembly. Subsequently, the government notified 'Kadavur slender loris sanctuary' under Section 26 (A)(1)(b) of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
“Projections show that there are close to 14,000 Slender Lorises in the Dindigul and Karur forest divisions alone, which seems to be the source and core population for various patches of the animal sighted across the State,” S. Prabhu, District Forest Officer, Dindigul, told The Hindu. A total of ₹5 crore has been earmarked for the Dindigul and Karur forest reserves to establish the sanctuary and its management until 2026, he said.
Welcoming the establishment of the sanctuary, N. Arunsankar, an environmentalist from Oddanchatram, said the mammal would now be able to live in peace without hurtful human intervention. “Trespassing of people would be minimised, people who capture the poor animal for commercial purposes would be clipped,” he said.
In December 2021, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests/Chief Wildlife Warden to take steps to conduct a study on the habitats and distribution of slender loris in the Ayyalur forests in Dindigul district, the Kadavur Hills in Karur district and in Tiruchi district. It also directed the authorities to conduct a census of slender loris in these areas. Once the enumeration is done, the authorities can declare the habitats a ‘sanctuary’, the court said, disposing of a public interest litigation petition.
In February this year, the Forest Department recorded about 8,800 direct and indirect sightings of slender loris in the Kadavur reserve forest in a survey carried out over three days.
In significant steps towards conservation of wildlife, Tamil Nadu government notified India’s first Dugong Conservation Reserve in Palk Bay, Kazhuveli bird sanctuary in Villupuram and Nanjarayan Tank birds sanctuary in Tiruppur and the State’s fifth elephant reserve at Agasthyamalai in Tirunelveli. Further, 13 wetlands across the State were declared as Ramsar sites.
These pathbreaking initiatives in a short span of 15 months have put Tamil Nadu at a pivotal position in the field of conservation, Ms. Sahu stated in the release.