Two baby slender lorises, an animal native to India but rarely spotted in the open, were sighted on the ghat roads of Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh amid the COVID-19 lockdown earlier this week. The two slender lorises were spotted around 4 pm on Monday, said forest officials.
“Some people spotted the slender lorises on the ghat road and intimated the forest officials of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) who passed on the information to Chittoor District Forest Officer and on the suggestion of the Chief Conservator of Forests in Tirumala, the two animals were left near a tree where they were spotted," a TTD forest official told TNM.
He further mentioned that they monitored the area for two days in case the animals didn't leave, or return. The slender loris live in the dense forests surrounding Tirumala and were previously identified by the officials.
"We can sometimes spot them at night when we perambulate the forest," the official added.
Loris tardigradus (scientific name), commonly known as the slender loris, is one of three species of Loris. Slender Loris are found in deciduous forests and also in hedgerow plantations bordering farmlands of southern India and Sri Lanka.
They are small animals with long thin arms and a tail that is small or completely absent. They are nocturnal primates which prefer to inhabit thick, thorny bushes and bamboo clumps to evade predators. Being omnivorous, they eat insects, leaves, flowers, slugs and also bird eggs.
Such animal sightings are normal in Tirumala, though this particular species is only seen rarely, officials said, adding that they could have ventured out as there was less sound pollution due to the lockdown.
Back in March, a herd of spotted deer were seen on the road to Tirupati. A leopard and a group of bears have also been spotted since the Sri Venkateswara temple closed its doors for devotees owing to the COVID-19 lockdown.
A similar trend has been noticed across India. Recently, a leopard also found its way to a relatively busy road in Mailardevpally, on the outskirts of Hyderabad.