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 JavaWe 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.


Cu Li Tuesday: Why study lorises and why with LFP? - 21/05/2015

The first time I learned about lorises and Dr. Anna Nekaris, was during my 2nd year at Washington University in St. Louis. I was a newly declared Anthropology major, taking my first pure primate-related course called “Primate Biology”.  My professor Professor Tab Rasmssen systematically went through each primate genus, presenting power point slides containing only photos. It was an impressive sight seeing how vast his primate knowledge was as he seamlessly moved from one species to the next.  I still remember that it is was week four when we reached Nycticebus and Loris. Right after the introductory slide showing theses little fire faces, he showed the class a picture of Dr. Anna Nekaris, wearing a red head torch while sitting in a dark forest.

Professor Rasmussen had such amazing things to say about this dedicated primatologist and conservationist who braved the long nights looking for these elusive primates. From that point on I was rather intrigued by the quirkiness I saw in lorises. I finished my last two years at university taking few non-primate based classes, allowing me to learn about the current primate species from Central America to Japan.  Given my French minor and my interest in primate cognition, I slowly got away from these curious little nocturnal primates, instead focusing on apes and other West African primates.

It was not until Dr. Nekaris emailed me upon my acceptance to the MSc in Primate Conservation programme at Oxford Brookes University that I rekindled my genuine fascination with nocturnal primates. As soon as I realized I would be moving to Oxford, I combed through my old power points and you would be impressed to know that I still had the notes from my Primate Biology course! Three years later I was able to find that one slide where Professor Rasmussen first introduced me to the person I would later call my supervisor and friend.

So, why lorises and why study them with LFP?

The best way for me to answer this is to ask another question.

Have you ever seen something that completely strikes you in an unexplainable way?

Well, that is how I feel whenever I meet eyes with a loris. Some would say that this is easily explained, because of how cute they are, but it is not just their infantile face that draws me in; it is all of the questions that surround their enigmatic existences. Why such a cute face for a nocturnal animal? Why such a long life history for such a small animal? Why have they evolved such an agility but are unable to jump? And how did they evolve to produce venom???

Dr. Nekaris and the Little Fireface project share my feeling of complete awe. For most of my life LFP has been committed to understanding lorises, conserving their populations and sharing what they have learned with the world. I am truly honored to call myself a member of such an amazing team. Every day we continue to fight the good fight for not only lorises, but also other little known nocturnal animals in collaboration with numerous conservation efforts throughout South and Southeast Asia.

Even if I tried, I cannot think of a better project to call home or a better supervisor to guide me through the ups and downs on my quest to becoming Dr. Stephanie Poindexter. Honestly, there is little to complain about when the work you love brings you to beautiful places like Vietnam and allows you to make a difference for these wonderful animals.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you back here for the next Culi ‘Tuesday’ update.

Please like the Little FireFace Project page on Facebook, if you have not done so already.

With lots of loris love,

Stephanie


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