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.
New comers, tragedy, and a little loris lovin’ - 04/12/2013
These past two weeks have been busy busy busy in loris land! We started the week by welcoming short term visitor, veterinarian Luis Martinez to the field site. He helped Josie and Denise with the sleep site study, went on rounds and an observation shift from 17-23:30, all after a two day trip (and 4 flights) from Mexico! He also arranged a very interesting autopsy of a dead loris (see below). Now that is commitment to the loris cause!
One of the most shocking events came one afternoon. Tracker Pak Dendi rang the house and told us that there was a dead loris in the river by his house. When we arrived at his house indeed there was a dead loris lying beside the gutter. It seems that the poor thing must have drowned. We suspect that the heavy winds from a few days before blew him off a branch and into the river. So sad to see these wonderful creatures succumb to accidents, especially now that they have been up-listed to Critically Endangered on the IUCN red list.
As you might have read in our last segment (Bamboo Bed Hopping) the lorises have been getting at it these past two weeks. And the fun is not yet over! We recently saw Shirley adn her baby Utari together (above). Monday night Denise and Aconk found slow loris Lucu in the same tree as another loris. They were seen very close together, when not obscured by leaves and branches, and spent a good while feeding together in the same gum tree! What was especially memorable was that when there was some distance between them they were calling to each other using very high pitched squeaks. Tracker Dendi how has been tracking lorises for over a year now said that it was the first time he had heard the lorises make such noises.
Cipaganti is experiencing the start of the rainy season which means lots of rain and more worryingly- lots of fog! As there are wild pigs roaming in the forest during heavy fog we have to stop the observations as it gets too dangerous. You can’t see a thing! The other night, was particularly scary as we could hear an animal approach but not see that it was a house cat lost in the forest until the very last moment.
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