Save the Slender Loris from Intrusive Tourist Photography

Gray slender loris (Loris lydekkerianus) photographed at Dindigal in Tamil Nadu

Target: Minister of State Jayanthi Natarajan, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India

Goal: Stop invasive ‘managed’ photo shoots of the Slender Loris

In India’s Western Ghats, a new threat is emerging to the Slender Loris—photography. Having become popularized through viral internet posts, these wide-eyed, nocturnal primates have become victims of an illegal pet trade. However, the pet trade is not the only threat to the Loris. The recent boost in their popularity has also sent a rush of photographers into the Western Ghats seeking a photo of this reclusive creature. The problem is that these tourists are unwilling to invest the time and effort required to photograph them in the wild. Rather, they pay members of the local Kani tribe to capture the Lorises for a ‘managed’ shoot. 

Being shy and living in strictly nocturnal habitats, Lorises are an extremely elusive primate. This makes photographing them difficult, dangerous and costly. Rather than take the risk of photographing them in their natural habitat, some photographers have taken to hiring the Kani to use scare tactics involving bright lights and tree cutting in order to capture the animals. Upon capture, the Kani then bring the Lorises to their villages where they are held in a cage for several days. Photographers are afforded the opportunity to invest in a photo shoot with the guarantee they will get the photos they are looking for. After the shoot is over, the Kani typically release the Lorises just outside their villages, which can be a great distance from their capture sites. Moreover, there often is no contiguous strip of forest to cover the Lorises trip back from the village to where they were captured.

This practice of managed photo shoots was recently documented in a study by researchers entitled Moolah, Misfortune, or Spinsterhood? The Plight of the Slender Loris. In the study the researchers conclude “This type of photography practice not only endangers a species protected under the Indian Wildlife Act, but also promotes the cultural and emotional discomfort among local communities, whose proximity to wildlife only presents an increased risk to wildlife conservation in this case.” In other words the photographers are not only endangering the Lorises, but they are affecting the local Kani tribes by involving them as well. If photographers wish to photograph the Slender Loris, they should do so in a manner which does not affect their survival or the culture of locals who live in proximity to them. Sign the petition below to show your support for ending ‘managed’ photo shoots.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Jayanthi Natarajan,

The practice of allowing photographers to enlist the local Kani tribes to capture Slender Loris for managed photo shoots is unethical. Photographers who are unwilling to take the risks associated with capturing images of an elusive creature are recruiting members of local Kani tribes in the Western Ghats to capture the Slender Loris for a controlled photo shoot. In order to do so, the tribe members use tree cutting practices, bright lights and scare tactics. Furthermore, the Lorises are not released back into their natural habitat, often rendering them vulnerable.

These practices endanger the Slender Loris, which is protected under the Indian Wildlife Act, and alters the culture of the locals enlisted to create the shoot. Both of these negative consequences could be avoided if managed photo shoots are made illegal. Please do the right thing and put an end to this potentially disastrous practice.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Kalyanvarma via Wikimedia Commons

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One Comment

  1. J Davidson says:

    This also encourages the illegal pet trade and must be stopped.

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