The Bengal slow loris (nycticebus bengalensis), an endangered species of primate locally known as lajjaboti banor
, are on the verge of disappearing due to extensive deforestation, researchers and environmentalists said.
As deforestation has destroyed much of their natural habitat and sources of food, lorises are now entering into nearby localities of Chittagong.
The Bengal slow loris is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “endangered” in its Red List of vulnerable species, and is also listed in Schedule III of the Bangladesh Wildlife (Preservation) Act, 1974.
The Bangladesh Wildlife (Conservation and Security) Act 2012 defines “endangered species” as any species of wild animal which is at risk of extinction.
According to the Bangladesh Slow Loris Research and Conservation Project (BSLRCP), the populations of Bengal slow loris are declining in the country due to destruction of natural forest land.
The organisation rescued seven bengal slow loris during the last year alone, and six more over the last five years, all of which were released in Satchhari forest and Lawachhara forest in Sylhet, as well as in several forests of Bandarban.
Prof Dr Badrul Amin Bhuiya, chairman of the Biodiversity Research Group of Bangladesh, said: “There was a time when we used to come across the rare species of primate on the campus of Chittagong University. The lorises are now slowly disappearing due to the depletion of forests and hills. This is why they often move to human habitats in search of food.”
According to the research organisation, the number of the rare species of monkey was around 300 in the country.
“Bengal Slow Loris kept losing their habitat in the evergreen forests Sylhet and Chittagong regions due to anthropogenic or man-made factors over the years. There was a time when the wild animal was found in Madhupur forests, but now it has become extinct there,” said BSLRCP Principal Investigator Hassan Al-Razi.
Bengal slow lorises are usually not sighted as they are exclusively nocturnal with slow and deliberate movements. They sleep in trees during the daytime.
The presence of the rare primate species is a bio-indicator of a healthy ecosystem. The mammal helps maintain the ecological balance by serving as a seed disperser and a pollinator as well.
The life span of the Bengal slow loris is about 15 years, with females giving birth to a single offspring every couple of years.