- Associated Press - Monday, July 19, 2010

GALLE, SRI LANKA (AP) - Researchers in a central Sri Lankan forest have photographed a rare primate that was feared extinct for more than 60 years, the Zoological Society of London said Monday.

A Horton Plains slender loris with wide eyes and short limbs was caught on camera after lengthy surveys of the forest by researchers from the society, the University of Colombo and the Open University of Sri Lanka.

Team leader Saman Gamage said the mammal was not sighted for more than 60 years until in 2002 a researcher reported spotting its eyes during a search _ inspiring the effort to prove the primate’s existence by viewing it fully and photographing it.

“We are thrilled to have captured the first ever photographs and prove its continued existence,” the society quoted its conservation biologist Craig Turner as saying.

The primate’s population is thought to have begun dwindling in its mountain forest habitat after British colonial rulers from the 19th century cleared large tracts forest for coffee and tea plantations, Gamage said.

He said more of the lorises are thought to live in small patches of forest in Sri Lanka’s hill country.