The first ever pictures of the
Horton Plains slender loris, a rare and endangered breed of primate that had
long been thought extinct, have been captured by scientists at the Zoological
Society of London (ZSL).
According to the conservation
organisation there were only four sightings of this loris subspecies from 1939
through 2002, which led many scientists to believe that they had all died out.
However, as part of the ZSL’s “Edge of Existence” program, researchers
were able to snap the world’s first photograph of a Horton Plains slender
loris–officially known as Loris tardigradus nycticeboides.
The photographed subject is an
adult male, roughly 8 inches long, with short limbs and thick fur.
The pictures come after more than
200 hours of work, as researchers conducted over 1,000 evening surveys in a Sri
Lankan forest area in search of the nocturnal, wide-eyed primate. Furthermore,
they were able to capture and measure three live subjects, despite the belief
that there are only 60-100 such creatures still alive today.
“We are thrilled to have
captured the first ever photographs and prove its continued
existence–especially after its 65 year disappearing act,” Dr. Craig
Turner, a conservation biologist with the ZSL.
“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,”
he continued. “Currently this accounts for less than one per-cent of the
land area of Sri Lanka.”
“This discovery is a great
reward for the ongoing field research we undertake across much of south-western
Sri Lanka,” added research leader Saman Gamage.