In the past, these small primates were to be found even in the heart of Bengaluru, but with rapid urbanisation taking over their habitat, the remaining lorises have sought out those parts of the city that continue to stay green: the vast and verdant campuses of educational institutions and some city parks. They’ve also adapted to the changes by making their homes at greater heights, taking advantage of Bengaluru’s tall trees to minimise contact with humans.

It’s difficult to find data on the size of the loris population because there hasn’t been any official census. Some estimates suggest that a few hundred could be living in Bengaluru.

But the Urban Slender Loris Project is trying to clear up some of the mystery. The small group of researchers is working to create a record of the number of lorises in the city, and the places they live in, by recruiting local residents to make night-time trips to green spaces across Bengaluru. The group has spotted 61 lorises in the last six months.

The project is being spearheaded by Kaberi Kar Gupta, a visiting scientist at the Centre for Ecological Science at Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Sciences, who studied the slender loris in the forests of the Kalakad-Mundanthurai tiger reserve in Tamil Nadu for nearly a decade.

In 2013, Gupta and a few other experts decided to look for lorises in Bengaluru, checking the verdant campus of a university in the city. To their surprise, there were plenty to be found.

“They were everywhere. Their density was much higher than what I saw when I did my PhD,” Gupta told the Guardian in July, adding that the team had not expected the lorises to be living inside the city, given its rapid growth in the past 20 years.

And so Gupta and her team decided to launch a project to conserve the species in Bengaluru.

Lorises are also at high risk because of poaching, sometimes even for black magic rituals. In 2013, People for Animals, a non-governmental organisation, rescued six lorises that had been injured while being used for some barbaric rituals.

But the Urban Slender Loris Project is betting that getting locals involved will help the tiny lorises survive, and even thrive, in Bengaluru.

The photo has been reproduced under the GNU Free Documentation license.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.