Known as: Red Slender Loris, Slender loris.
Estimated numbers left in the wild: 100 to 1,500.
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Description of the Red Slender Loris
The red slender loris is a curious-looking creature – a small primate weighing around 150 grams and measuring between 11.5 and 17 centimeters long, with huge red eyes, rounded ears, and long, slim arms and legs.
The large, forward-facing eyes give the red slender loris excellent night vision and superb depth perception as well. The hands and feet are dexterous and well adapted to climbing through the trees that this loris calls home. The big toe is opposable, as is the thumb. Individual fur color varies from grey to russet.
Red slender lorises forage alone despite their sociable aspects. They move quickly through the treetops as they quest for food, which mostly takes the form of insects. They supplement their insectivorous diet with leaves, berries, and other plant parts.
Red slender lorises can also be quite predatory at times, creeping up on lizards and grabbing them with both hands, after which they devour the entire reptile, scales, bones, and all. These lorises grow active when the sun begins to sink, and rest or sleep during the daylight hours.
Red slender lorises are quite sociable when they are not feeding, forming small groups who groom each other, play and sleep in the same area. These lorises may sleep in tangled areas of branches, tree hollows, or simply on a branch, curled up tightly. Females outrank males in their social hierarchy.
Mating occurs at any time during the year, and is always accomplished with both partners hanging upside down beneath a branch; the animals are unable to mate in any other position. The maximum lifespan of a red slender loris in the wild is thought to be 18 years.
This small, agile, intriguing primate is limited to the southwestern corner of Sri Lanka. Lorises are not found above 700 to 900 meters elevation above sea level, and prefer lowland rainforests. There is a highland subspecies that live in mountain rainforests, however.
A whole battery of hazards confronts the red slender loris today.
Though protected by law and living in a theoretically protected habitat, these lorises are hunted regularly because of their body parts’ alleged use as “medicine”, a major threat to many animals from Asia. Slender lorises are also struck and killed by cars while crossing roads or are electrocuted on power lines while attempting to climb along what appears to them to be a vine.
Massive habitat loss to illegal logging, and the advance of cinnamon, oil palm, tea, and rubber plantations, is devastating the lorises’ environment and likely sealing off any possibility of future recovery while humans remain active in the area.
One of the best hopes for the loris comes from NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that work in conjunction with local people. For example, Land Owners Restore Rainforest in Sri Lanka, or LORRIS, is an alliance of landowners and environmental scientists attempting to restore some rainforest to a crucial loris region.
Other organizations are attempting similar medium-scale grass-roots initiatives.
Do you know of or are you a part of an organization that works to conserve the Red Slender Loris, then please contact us to have it featured on Our Endangered World.