Save the Slender Loris Before it is Gone Extinct

Slender Loris

Save the Slender Loris Before it is Gone Extinct 

-Dr. Arvind Singh 

Slender loris (thevangu animal) is a small, slender species of primate found in the forest of Southern India (Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu) and Sri Lanka. Being a nocturnal animal it has large forward-facing eyes used for precise depth perception. The large eyes and small pointed snout gives it a very cute appearance. Loris is a Dutch word meaning ‘clown’. In former times, Dutch seafarers frequently took away this animal from India to Europe. Locally Slender lorises are called as Kaadu Paapa in Kannada, Kutti thevangu in Tamil and Unahapuluwa in Sri Lanka.

Due to a sharp decline in population, Slender loris is listed as ‘Endangered’ in the Red List of Threatened Species of International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Endangered species are those species which are in danger of extinction and whose survival is unlikely if the causal factors continue to be operating. Their number has been reduced to a critical level or whose habitats have been so drastically reduced that they deemed to be in immediate danger of extinction.

Physical Characteristics:

Slender loris has long slender limbs and a well-developed index finger and large prominent ears, which are thin, rounded and hairless at the edges. It is about 20-25 cm long and has long thin arms. It weighs around 350 gm. The soft dense fur is reddish-brown in colour on the back and the underside is whitish-grey with a sprinkling of silver hair. The arms and legs are of the same length. The grasping hands and feet have strongly opposable thumbs and big toes. Slender loris has a dark face mask with a central pale stripe. It has a small vestigial tail.

Habitat and Ecology:

Slender loris (thevangu animal) inhabits tropical rain forest, open woodland, swampy coastal forest, semi-deciduous forest, scrub forest and Casuarinas groves and bamboo clumps.

Being arboreal they spend most of their life on trees. Though their movement is slow yet they can climb up fast to the treetop when frightened.

They are known to be very social at dawn and dusk interacting with others of their own.

The mating season of Slender loris is twice a year, from April to May and October to November. The gestation period is 166-169 days. The female gives birth to one or rarely two infants. The mother carries the infants constantly during the first few weeks after birth. The life span of Slender loris ranges between 15-18 years.

Insects are the pet food of Slender loris, however, they are also known to eat leaves, berries of Lantana bushes, flowers, slugs, small birds, tree frogs and sometimes eggs of birds. They either hunt on their own or in pairs. Among the strange habits they have is the urine washing of their face and limbs, which is thought to soothe or defend against the sting of toxic insects they prefer to eat. With the coming of dusk, it wakes to hunt for its food.

Threats to Survival:

Poaching, habitat destruction and replacement of native tree species with exotic tree species are the main threats to the survival of Slender loris.

Slender lorises are often poached for their eyes and flesh. Eyes are cooked with herbal medicines and eaten by some Indians who believe they are an aphrodisiac. Eating of the animal flesh cures asthma.

Due to their attractive eyes, there is a lucrative market for Slender lorises in Thailand and other South Asian countries. The animals caught from Karnataka are illegally trafficked to these parts of the world. A network of poachers operating between Karnataka and Goa is involved in the trafficking of Slender lorises which are sold for Rs. 10,000 each.

Slender lorises are also poached for their skin and toenails, which are worn as a charm around the neck by some tribal people. Their skin is used in making handbags and expensive purses. Slender lorises are trapped and killed in many south Indian states as people believe they bring bad luck.

Habitat destruction is another threat to the survival of Slender loris. Forests are being destroyed for various reasons including conversion for agriculture and demand for fuel. Replacement of native species with exotic tree species like Eucalyptus has also led to a decline in population of Slender loris as such exotic plant species cannot sustain indigenous animal species.

It has been reported that environmental stress is affecting their birth rates. The infants die early.

They are also collected by snake-charmers who use them as an object of amusement to attract crowds thereby exposing these poor animals to the blinding glare of sunlight to which they are ill-accustomed.

Other threats include electrocution of live wires and road accidents.


The slender loris is listed under the Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972 and on Appendix II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The following actions are needed for the conservation of Slender loris in India. 1. To strictly enforce the Wildlife (Protection) Act and CITES. 

2. To create public awareness regarding the need for Slender loris conservation and its significance as a national heritage. 

3. To establish conservation-oriented captive breeding programmes and creating large National Parks and Reserves in areas of high abundance. 

4. To check the habitat loss of this primate species. 

5. To restore the degraded habitats of Slender loris. 

6. To strictly ban the plantations of exotic tree species like Eucalyptus in the habitats of Slender loris. 


It can be concluded that Slender loris (thevangu animal) faces the threat of extinction chiefly due to poaching, habitat destruction and large scale plantation of exotic species tree species like Eucalyptus. It is, therefore, necessary to conserve this primate species for the maintenance of biological diversity and ecological stability.

Dr. Arvind Singh is M. Sc. and Ph. D. in Botany with an area of specialization in Ecology. He is a dedicated Researcher having more than four dozen published Research Papers in the Journals of National and International repute. His main area of Research is Restoration of Mined Lands. However, he has also conducted research on the Vascular Flora of Banaras Hindu University-Main Campus, India.

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