Friday, May 31, 2013

The Slender Loris diaries!

This day began as a fine cloudless morning with little or no expectations of rains. It was one of those exceptionally hot days when the average Bangalorean feels out of place. But the clouds began encroaching later in the afternoon, which is why I began fidgeting, because I thought I might not see Lorises at IISc.
It was only the second time that I would be seeing a Slender Loris, if at all i saw one. I was looking forward to it. It was drizzling all along the way, but magically and fortunately, it stopped by the time I reached IISc.

Shreenidhi, my companion in this little adventure, is one of those people who is so familiar with the Lorises at IISc to such an extent that they can be referred to as his "chaddi dosts". They are like his friends. He knows which one goes where, which one hides, which one comes closest to humans - he is so used to the habits of this little elegant animal. "I have literally grown up here! This is my second home! This bamboo clump has never disappointed me... come lets look here!" He animatedly explained as he led me to a dense but dry clump of bamboo near the old Centre for Ecological Sciences building. It was approximately 7:20pm, I started straining my ears for the screechy call of the Slender Loris. Little did I know that one need not strain their ears to listen to it's screaming...

A firefly caught my attention. I walked towards it and discovered a whole squadron of them sailing around, twinkling away in their glory. I watched them for a few minutes, meanwhile Shreenidhi kept shining his torch around the place. "I wonder why there is no Loris here today. Lets go ahead." Just as we walked across the path, aiming for a different spot with high probability of a sighting.....

Screeeeech! Finally! The call that I have been wanting to hear. It was loud! We turned around and returned to the clump, and there it was! As we caught our first glimpse at it, we saw that it was staring right at us. The torchlight made the animal's large eyes gleam with a yellowish-orange glow. It was beautiful! But this individual was rather timid. It moved deeper into the clump just a few seconds after the torchlight found it's presence.

We moved ahead, and yet again, we heard the call. The time was 7:30. The pitch of this call seemed to be a note lower than that of the one we had just seen. We searched, but did not find the animal. As we kept walking, at 7:40, we halted at another call. Shreenidhi quickly scanned the nearby trees and found the mammal moving upwards at a height of about 30ft from the ground. "Here it is!" He pointed at it with the beam of light from his torch, and this one did not seem to mind the attention unlike the previous individual. It was as though the Loris was minding its own business irrespective of the extra light. Moments later, "Is it carrying a young one? I dont see the super white underbelly! Look closely through the binocs!" He exclaimed. I peered through them and observed that there was indeed a young one holding on to the belly of this Loris. "Cheeni! You're right man! This kaadu paapa has a paapa!" I laughed. It was moving around quickly. But it was at the same height more or less. I pointed the torch at the Loris so that he could get a look through the binoculars. "Just look at the eye shine of the young one near the butt of the mother! Wow!" And he was of course right. We watched the Loris for almost half an hour. The mother would look right at us with her gleaming orange eyes, and as she moved, we could see Loris junior's little beady eyes glow. We just didn't want to leave. We watched her tilll she completely disappeared behind a thick cover of leaves as the rain began to pour. Throughout this sighting, there was a slight drizzle and lightning was very frequent. There was no sign of the moon amidst the thickness of the clouds.

Both of us were very happy. It was a grand sighting of a mother and her young one, we heard her call, and we spent approximately half an hour with her! I don't think it could have gotten any better, unless she came low enough for us to get a photograph. We congratulated ourselves and headed to the IISc cafeteria to celebrate a cup of hot coffee in the rain. When that was done, we headed in our different directions with complete satisfaction! Now this was definitely an evening well spent!

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