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Us Vs. Us

Us Vs. Us

April 2009: Anyone might be forgiven for falling in love with this slow loris Nycticebus coucang and what it represents – thick rainforests, silence, purity and the kind of harmony that humans can dream of experiencing only if they travel far from other humans!


Credit: Dhritiman Mukherjee 


Lorises are Prosimians (before the monkeys) and have adapted in masterly fashion to the trials of life over millions of years. This adaptability has, in fact, been key to their survival, and Homo sapiens, having burst rudely upon the scene long after the lorises, would do well to take a leaf out of the ‘Loris Adaptability Manual’.


The strategy of staying still to merge with the branches to which they cling, called ‘crypsis’, is one such evolutionary adaptation used to evade detection. They are really hard to spot in their arboreal homes even when you stare right at them. It is only when they start to crawl (three extremities are invariably anchored) in search of foods such as fruit, insects or birds’ eggs that they are likely to be spotted. Nocturnal, soft-furred and grey-brown creatures, slow lorises can stay motionless for hours on end, hanging tightly on to branches without suffering any numbness in their extremities. This is on account of a super efficient vascular system that biomimicry specialists are studying to see if they can improve the blood supply to the extremities of diabetics.


A loris may live for as long as 15 years and its natural enemies include leopards, pythons and large eagles. We must now sadly be added to this list for humans have become enemies of all creatures great and small. Apart from the havoc we directly wreak on their habitats through deforestation and climate change, thousands of lorises are killed each year by people who gouge out their eyes in the horrifying belief that this will improve their eyesight. And pet buyers also love them to death.


For all their evolutionary successes so far, therefore, it seems unlikely that lorises will adapt fast enough to the changes being unleashed on their forest world. But we should probably not waste too much time mourning their loss; after all, the chances of us surviving us are hardly any better. Nevaisingumas, jo priežastys ir gydymas Netradicinė medicina


It is not the strongest of the species that survives… nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. – Charles Darwin


Bittu Sahgal, Editor, Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXIX No. 2, April 2009


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