By Nikhil Deshmukh
KOLHAPUR: A rare ebullient primate, Slender Loris, was rescued from a slum in Pune last week and released in a forest near Kolhapur. The schedule 1 animal is commonly found in Chandgad and adjacent forest areas of Dandeli and Dodamarg.
Ornithologist Satish Pande and forest officials of Pune and Kolhapur rescued the animal and released it near Patane forest range in Chandgad tehsil.
Pande told TOI that he received a call from one of his students on May 4 about a "strange" animal near Parvati slums in Pune. "I was surprised to find Slender Loris, which is commonly smuggled out of the country. I took custody of the animal and informed deputy conservator of forest Satyajit Gujar," he said.
The chief conservator of forest in Nagpur was informed about the find. He granted the permission for the release of the animal in Kolhapur. M K Rao, Chief conservator of forest (Territorial), Kolhapur circle confirmed the rescue operations.
"It is an arboreal animal with common food as lizards, grecos and other small reptiles. Its maximum weight is around 200gm and it is a very shy animal. Being a nocturnal animal, it is challenging to locate its movements and habits. When it was brought to Kolhapur, there were hardly any injuries on its body and we found it very active. Hence, it was decided to release it in the forest of Chandgad," Rao said.
He added that there have been some incidents in last 3-4 years in which Slender Loris was being smuggled out of the country. Though it is a Schedule 1 animal, there is no detailed information available about the primate. It is commonly found in Karnataka and other southern states of the country but a detailed census of the animal in Kolhapur region is needed, he said.
A team from a Banglore-based institute had visited Kolhapur some years ago when they came to know of the presence of Slender Loris in this region. They visited some locations in the forests of Chandgad and Dodamarg and made some 'calls' to the animal. Their report has mentioned that in some areas they received a response, underscoring the presence of the animal. But later, there was no proper census.
The slender loris is also included in CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Still, smuggling cases are reported.
"I have recorded the statements of students who found the animal. We also have the statement of Pande, who helped in the rescue operation. We need to sensitize the society towards such animals and its safety," said Gujar.