COS 12-4 - Citizen scientists study a nocturnal primate in urban habitats of Greater Bengalore

Monday, August 8, 2016: 2:30 PM
222/223, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center


Kaberi Kar Gupta, Urban Slender Loris Project


Globally, by 2030 urban areas will triple from 2011 and the human population will be doubled. Biodiversity hotspots are most vulnerable to urban development and yet many of the largest urban centers are located in these hotspots. In the peninsular India, Bangalore is one of the fastest growing cities near a biological hotspot, the built up area in the city has increased by 74% in 1973-2010. Many species such as nocturnal, arboreal Slender loris (Loris t. lydekkerianus) once found extensively in the canopies, has been isolated to now existing green patches of the city. Goal of this citizen science project is to understand the threats of  biodiversity in Bangalore. We focus on documenting the past and present distribution of slender loris and quantify the  status of urban habitats. An interdisciplinary team of citizen scientists in the city has been trained by scientists to carry out the study. In the first year the team conducted online survey among residents for qualitative documentation of lorises. Within each 5 sq km grids, the team did nocturnal censuses to estimate population of lorises. To determine the past distribution ethnographic interviews were done. Outreach/education is ongoing in academic institutions, cafes, and information technology companies.


The project now has 300 plus citizens who are interested in the loris study, 165 people signed up to participated in the survey, 60 were trained for doing the night survey, 15 are part of the core team. From the online survey it is evident that lorises are mostly found in the institutional campuses and forest patches in the outskirts. Nocturnal surveys confirmed loris presence in forested patches within institutional campuses, city parks and state reserve forests. Encounter rate varied between .5 animals/km to 3.5 animals/ km walked. Forest structure varied from scrub forests to large trees. Initial interviews suggest that the residents above age 60 have seen loris in the neighborhoods in the past including some that do not exist anymore. Both social and traditional media are used. More than 30 national and international media articles, 3 radio shows 10 talks were given in public in the first year. Results suggest that the unplanned and uncontrolled growth of city is causing destruction to the habitat of many species which once thrived here. Scientific study and outreach programs with stakeholders such as residents, city officials and forest department are important to conserve urban biodiversity.