Wide-eyed primate caught on camera for first time

Jul 19, 2010
A "cute" primate so rare it was thought to be extinct has been caught on camera in the forests of Sri Lanka for the first time, scientists said.

A "cute" primate so rare it was thought to be extinct has been caught on camera in the forests of Sri Lanka for the first time, scientists said Monday.

The Horton Plains slender loris is a small, nocturnal animal which can grow up to 17 centimetres (six inches) long with big, bulging eyes.

Endemic to Sri Lanka, it was first discovered in 1937 but had only been seen four times since then.

Scientists last caught a glimpse of the in 2002, and believed the elusive animal had since died out.

But field researchers, working with the Zoological Society of London, managed to track down the mysterious creature in the forests of central Sri Lanka.

In a world first, they were able to take pictures of an adult male slender loris sitting on a tree branch.

This is an undated handout photo issued Monday July 19, 2010 by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) of a Horton Plains slender loris, sitting on a forest branch in a mountain forest in central Sri Lanka. Researchers say they photographedthe rare primate thought to have been extinct for more than 60 years in a forest in central Sri Lanka. The Zoological Society of London said in in a statement on Monday that a Horton Plains slender loris with wide eyes and short limbs has been caught on camera by ZSL and Sri Lankan researchers after they surveyed forest patches for more than 200 hours, looking for signs of the primate. (Zoological Society of London/Ho)

The field team was able to capture one of the creatures and give it a physical examination, the first time that has ever been done, before releasing it back into the wild.

But experts warned that in Sri Lanka -- largely blamed on the drive to create tea plantations in the region -- was now the biggest threat to the loris.

Craig Turner, a at the ZSL, said their natural had been divided up for farming and logging use, cutting off the "very cute" animals from their partners.

"The forest has now been fragmented into a series of small islands," Turner told BBC radio.

"They can't move to one another, they can't mate, breed, so it has real implications for the future persistence of the species."

Explore further: Can't see the kelp forest for the... corals? Time to value our temperate reefs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sri Lanka army website hacked: defence ministry

May 01, 2009

The Sri Lankan army's website has been targeted in a "cyber terrorism" attack by Tamil rebels, the defence ministry said Friday, and replaced with gruesome photos of apparent victims of the civil war.

Recommended for you

Changes in farming and climate hurting British moths

1 hour ago

Britain's moths are feeling the pinch – threatened on one side by climate change and on the other by habitat loss and harmful farming methods. A new study gives the most comprehensive picture yet of trends ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jselin
3.8 / 5 (4) Jul 19, 2010
So its been seen only four times ever (probably by different people) and never photographed but these researchers are certain this is an adult?
El_Nose
Jul 19, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
jselin
5 / 5 (1) Jul 19, 2010
Unless the adults are more cautious and hide when people are around.

Did I really deserve a 1 for the original comment? I think its fair to question assumptions with such a small data set. Perhaps there are clear clues that say this one was fully mature based on what we know about similar primates?
MarkyMark
not rated yet Jul 20, 2010
Unless the adults are more cautious and hide when people are around.

Did I really deserve a 1 for the original comment? I think its fair to question assumptions with such a small data set. Perhaps there are clear clues that say this one was fully mature based on what we know about similar primates?


They probably are more cautiouse providing one reason why they are not seen as much. And yes your earlier question was a good one so gave you the score i felt you deserved.
Semmster
5 / 5 (1) Jul 20, 2010
Must we destroy everything we cross paths with?! As a species, it seems we humans are long past our due date...
El_Nose
not rated yet Jul 26, 2010
don't be so down Semmster --- all animals given proper constrainst do the same thing. Take carivore fish, they eat whatever is in their diet... and will do so without qualm. IF it goes extinct it goes extinct because it was too slow or did not blend in well with its surroundings.

We are the first species to give a dam* !! Ever wonder what happened to some of those uniques species palenontologists pull out of the ground -- most of them got eaten. eaten till the species collapsed and a new balance was found.

With intelligence we get to change our habits before we kill off all of our food supply and die ourselves.