ABOUT THE LITTLE FIREFACE PROJECT
Slow lorises are a unique group of primates found throughout South and Southeast Asia. Their vice-like grip, snake-like movements, shy nature, and most remarkably, their venomous bite, make them unique amongst the primates. They also are to many people undeniably adorable, and to others, nature’s answer to over 100 diseases. Their slow movements make them easy prey to expert hunters who literally empty the forests of these shy primates – amongst the most common mammals seen in Asia’s illegal animal markets, but amongst the rarest spotted even in Asia’s best protected forests.
The Little Fireface Project, named after the Sundanese word for loris, is the world’s longest running loris conservation project, started in 1993, under the auspices of the Nocturnal Primate Research Group of Oxford Brookes University. Our research was highlighted in the award winning 2012 film Jungle Gremlins of Java. We aim to save lorises from extinction through learning more about their ecology and using this information to educate local people and law enforcement officers, leading to empathy and empowerment whereby people in countries where lorises exist will want to save them for themselves. This is done through education, media, workshops and classroom programmes. Our education does not stop in range countries, but also reaches out to potential western purchasers of loris pets.
Village Life - 25/09/2014
I never thought I’d be so lucky as to be given the opportunity to live in a place like this. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Climbing onto a roof at 5am to watch the burnt orange sun rise from behind a mountain is pretty special. And the roofs themselves are just spectacular – terracotta as far as the eye can see. Well, that is until the eye sees down into the valley where the closest town is, and even then the views are no less wonderful, especially at dawn or dusk when lights are still twinkling on and off. Then if you look further you see mountains shrouded with greenery that appear blue-grey in the early morning light. Beyond that I can’t say, but I’m sure it’s equal in beauty. I could sit here and talk about the view and how much I love it all day long. But I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Onto life in the village.
I really have nothing to go by for comparison, so I can’t say whether this month has been busy or not in terms of normal village life. It’s definitely been easy to settle in. The local people treat you like you’ve always been here, always saying “hello” with a smile. And the children are so wonderful! Being able to interact with them during sessions such as Drama Club is one of the reasons why I’m so grateful for the opportunity. Obviously there’s a slight language barrier, due to the fact that my Bahasa Indonesia is abysmal. But I’m slowly learning, and having the opportunity to learn another language is another bonus to being here.
A personal highlight of the past month regarding village life has been having the opportunity to cook with some of the locals and learn some authentic Indonesian recipes. It’s so different to any way I’ve ever cooked before and the flavours are just beautiful – herbs and spices and roots that I’ve never heard of; it leaves me wondering where I’ll be able to find them when I return home. And obviously I wouldn’t be able to describe the cooking without a mention of cassava, my new favourite food.
All in all, the first month in the village has been an amazing experience. I’ve made new friends from across the globe – America, Australia, Canada, and of course, Indonesia. If the next eight months follow in the footsteps of this first one, I can’t imagine I’ll ever want to leave.
Katy Elsom – Student Volunteer
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