Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Kaadupapa: forest baby

Slender loris on branch
I find it a little hard to decide precisely which attribute earns the Slender loris it's Kannada name, Kaadupapa. Whether it's the childlike huge eyes, adapted for nocturnal vision. Or the tiny tiny hands, equipped with pads, for a grip that does not often fail. The fragile slender limbs, the slow deliberate response to everything. Or the whistle, a territorial call, which could be mistaken for a child's demands for food.

Slender loris on branch

All the furry, feathery creatures of the world find their way to our doorstep. CES is the orphan-house for animals. We have had beautiful bats hung on our doorway, with a note in a childish hand weighed down with stones on the doorstep left as explanation. People regularly bring us squirrel babies, naked, still blind to the world. The common denominator among these many is that they shiver, they are cold. Small animals (all that remains in this truncated land loose heat rapidly, they are more surface than substance and this is their undoing. The first Loris we ever caught was retrieved from the bicycle repair shop in a rain-storm. It had an arm missing, one hopes it was a predator, a non human one that took it. This one came to us late yesterday night, few details reached me through the many layers that were between the finders and the 'rescuers'.

Slender loris close up

Most of the time, when there are no apparent injuries, we surmise that these little ones are just cold. All they need is a little warmth and food and they are ready for the world again. We transferred this little guy to a spacier box, gave him a towel to keep warm with and a few crickets to feast on and wished him beddy bye for the night. The lab is warmer than the outside and that should help. The warmth, rest and food seemed to have done it well and it was reasonably active in the morning. A little checking showed no obvious injuries or broken bones (with gloves, these guys know how to bite real good). So we figured it's best to let it go.

Not everyone is so lucky. The last one we had was all skin and bones and breathed his last before my eyes. I slept not so much last night, hoping this guy would not go the same way. Or escape and wander around the lab like the first one did.

Lorises are well protected by law in India. But their nocturnal nature has spawned myths and rumors about them, the ghost like call does not help their PR one bit. And like everything else on this earth, they are threatened by habitat loss. The IUCN includes it in the Red list and terms it near threatened. It's probably the most exotic animal IISc hosts, also one that claims kinship to us, a primate. According to a Sindhu, a Loris researcher working at NIAS, we have a healthy population here which can, given a chance, last a while. Here's hoping IISc doesn't loose a Red-lister in it's quick and dirty march towards what (everyone hopes) is (at least) an (infrastructural) A-list.

Large eyes help in nocturnal hunting


Anush Shetty said...

Pretty amazing that we find Kaadupapa in the city itself :-)

Nice post

Natasha Mhatre said...

:) Yeah, its not strictly 'Kaadu' I guess. But then so many city-folk call a little bit of undergrowth a 'jungle'!

Anush Shetty said...

ah :-)

Should do one thorough walk there sometime. I missed quite a lot of your recent entries. Just reading them today :-)

Natasha Mhatre said...

Sure, shoot me and email and we'll fix it up. I'm here only until the end of feb, so we'll have to plan it soon.

Anonymous said...

What are these?! They look like big eyed lemurs.

ZT,Mr.lewis's reading group

Natasha Mhatre said...

They are not exactly Lemurs. But they are more related to lemurs than some other monkeys, like macaque and definitely apes.