Sri Lankan primate believed to be extinct for 60 years, found!

One of the rarest and most threatened primates in the world, so mysterious it was once thought to be extinct, has been has been caught on camera for the first time. The pictures of the Horton Plains slender loris (Loris tardigradus nycticeboides) were taken in the montane forests of central Sri Lanka by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Sri Lankan researchers. Until now this subspecies of slender loris has only been seen four times since 1937 and disappeared from 1939 to 2002, leading experts to believe it had become extinct. Conservation biologists from ZSL’s Edge of Existence Programme surveyed 2km transects for more than 200 hours, looking for signs of this elusive wide-eyed primate. The pictures of the nocturnal creature, which is classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, show an eight inch long (head and body length) adult male slender loris sitting on a forest branch. It is characterised by his short limbs and long, dense fur.

Conservationists have discovered that both the fore and hind limbs of the Horton Plains slender loris appear shorter and sturdier than the limbs of any of the other loris found in either Sri Lanka or southern India showing how the mammal has adapted to live in the cool montane forest. ZSL Conservation biologist Dr. Craig Turner said: “We are thrilled to have captured the first ever photographs and prove its continued existence – especially after its 65 year disappearing act. This is the first time we have been able to conduct such a close examination of the Horton Plains slender loris. “The discovery improves our knowledge of this species, but we need to focus our efforts on the conservation and restoration of the remaining montane forest where this species still exists. Currently this accounts for less than one per-cent of the land area of Sri Lanka.” Research leader Saman Gamage added: “This discovery is a great reward for the ongoing field research we undertake across much of south-western Sri Lanka. “Nearly 1,000 nocturnal surveys have been completed in 120 different forest areas looking for all loris species to assess their status, ecological needs and current threats. We are now conducting further studies to establish whether the Horton Plains slender loris could even be a species in its own right.” EDGE aims to help secure the future of the endangered Sri Lankan red slender loris by determining its population status, threats and distribution so that important areas can be identified and appropriate conservation measures implemented. The red slender loris, Loris tardigradus, is a nocturnal primate species

endemic to Sri Lanka. Classified as Endangered by the IUCN, it is declining because its forest habitat is being destroyed for logging, agriculture and development. As the forest patches become increasingly fragmented, isolated populations become stranded and cannot move far to escape threats, find food or meet potential mates. EDGE researchers have teamed up with the University of Colombo and Open University of Sri Lanka to collaborate with Sri Lankan loris experts to develop a management strategy for the red slender loris. Detailed research, via ‘occupancy sampling’ has been carried out to assess the abundance, distribution, and threats facing the species so that an appropriate long-term conservation programme can be established. The programme will focus on habitat restoration, protection and the creation of wildlife corridors in key areas identified during the initial research period. Species overview;  The EDGE of Existence programme is supporting conservation projects for ten of the top 100 EDGE mammals. These species have been selected for conservation attention because they are extremely evolutionarily distinct and threatened, and are currently receiving little or no conservation attention from other organisations. We feel that we are in a position to truly make a difference to the future of these species. You can make a donation to the EDGE Mammals programme here. sources: zsl.org & edgeofexistence.org  ~ The slender lorises are two species of loris native to India and Sri Lanka, the only members of the genus Loris: * the

Red Slender Loris, Loris tardigradus * the Gray Slender Loris, Loris lydekkerianus.  Some sources list only one species, Loris tardigradus and regard subspecies of lydekkerianus as subspecies instead, of tardigradus. The slender loris is a small, nocturnal primate found only in the tropical rainforests of Southern India and Sri Lanka. They are able to live in wet and dry forests, as well as lowland and highland forests. They prefer thick, thorny vegetation wherein they can easily escape predators and find the large assortment of insects that is the mainstay of their diet. Loris tardigradus malabaricus is a subspecies of the slender loris which is only found in India. The greatest concentrations of these slender lorises are found in the southeastern Ghats of India. The Ghats are a narrow strip of rainforest that runs down the length of western India. The slender loris is about the size of a chipmunk, with long, pencil-thin arms and legs. It is between 6-10 in. (15-25cm) long and has a small, vestigial tail. It weighs about 10.5-12 oz. (275-348g). The slender loris’ round head is dominated by two large, closely set, saucer-like brown eyes. They flank a long nose which ends in a heart-shaped knob. The eyes are surrounded by dark-brown to black circles of fur, while the bridge of the nose is white. It has a small, narrow lower jaw. The ears are large and round. Its coat is light red-brown or gray-brown on its back and dirty white on its chest and belly. The fur on its forearms, hands and feet is short. The slender loris has small finger nails on its digits. The second digit on the hand and foot are very short. They move on the same plane as the thumb, which helps them grasp branches and twigs.  ~ GoodNews International

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