I wanted to write one small post about the very big children’s book we have been working on here at LFP. My story was written in a hotel room in Sukabumi, the night before our LFP loris workshop started. My MSc student Jonna Lehtinen and I has been joking about the loris who would save the carrots…and if the loris should be a super hero – how could we make the local people love the loris?
Well the truth is the local people NEED the loris. The loris does such wonderful things for their ecosystem, and plays a vital role. So what better to empower children with this knowledge in a fun and gentle way?
I have been amazed at the feedback and messages received about our little book and education materials – where is all the death? Where are the ripped out teeth? Where is the forest being burnt down? But when we think back to our own childhoods, would those images have made us love animals? Would we have asked our parents to read us those books over and over again? I think most children reading supposed conservation education books about orang-utans in cages or chimps getting their forest burnt down do not care if the story has a happy ending. Learning theory shows us time and time again that it is only older children or even adults who can process these truths.
The children just need to learn to love. We are so selfish and also just forgetful in the west in many ways. We forget that our children’s books were mainly adorable, funny or just lovely. Those that did have death and destruction probably left an indelible mark, like when Bambi’s mother was shot. I could never look at that page ever again it me so very sad. Children in habitat countries who have never had a book want their first book to be full of life and love…not death and sorrow.
So please wish us all luck as we embark on our venture to introduce the children where we are working to a story totally fully of love, with a teacher’s pack that embraces these facts. Animals feel pain. Animals feel sadness. Animals feel love. Just like we do. And they have their important jobs to do. And that they are totally adorable is an added bonus.
I would just like to take this last paragraph to thank the wonderfully fabulous Shelley Low, who I have never met in person, but she must have entered a world as mad as my own in the last two months, drawing lorises so magical that everyone I have shown them to could not believe they were so beautiful, or that they could be more adorable than a real-life loris.It is as if a loris guardian watched over her to make every eye expression and every nail and every tooth adorable and perfect. Thank you Shelley!
I have never felt more energised by any science project than I have from the hope that this project has given me because without the love of the local people we cannot save the loris. Time will tell and we will give many updates!
As a UK Mothering Sunday special edition, we have created an ‘extra’ newsletter. We sometimes forget that in all their otherworldly cuteness, slow lorises are, just like monkeys, orang-utans and humans, primates. They have large brains, hands with thumbs, and loving social relationships. Their period of pregnancy is 6.5 months and for such a small animal, they suckle for a long time – several months – and do not leave their parents until after they are a year to 18 months old. They can live until they are 20! If you compare this to a similarly-sized grey squirrel, it becomes evident that lorises are very special indeed, and that keeping one in a tiny cage, with no branches, and no social partners, is not the life for these primate cousins of ours.
We also reflect, that during this week of COP 16 in Thailand that it was only 6 years ago that slow lorises were transferred to Appendix 1 of CITES. It was believed at the time that this move would help to stop the enormous trade in these adorable species. But it seems only to have gotten worse. In 2007, there had not yet been a “tickling slow loris” or “slow loris holding tiny umbrella” or “slow loris eating rice” video to embed in the mind of the public that it is somehow ok to have a wild Endangered animal as a pet because lorises, unlike fierce animals like tigers or pig-tailed macaques, submit when man-handled, and their submission, sadly for them, looks adorable. And in our selfishness, we just seem to want them more and more.
We have just heard that on Facebook, the viral “slow loris eating rice” video has been shared a 20000th time. I even had it shared on my own page by a friend who knew I studied lorises and had seen a film I made about the illegal trade. I was shocked and dismayed. If those we know who know the suffering of the loris think a video like that is okay, what hope is there? Please do your part by NOT sharing those videos and telling everyone you know about the truth behind the illegal trade.
And do enjoy our new newsletter.We could not upload it today! We will try again tomorrow
Although a few days late the American Journal of Primatology has finally made our loris taxonomy paper available as a freely downloadable pdf by clicking on this link. Enjoy! Also do not forget to read our new newsletter, available by clicking on the right side panel on the feature home page!
Posted on 03/02/2012
Anna will be speaking about Lorises in Lore, Literature and Legacy in a slot sometime after 7:30 pm but before 11pm on the 8th Febuary at Klub Gutenburg in London. Please see www.thequietus.com where ticket details will be posted. Aidan Moffat formerly of Arab Strap will also be strumming some acoustic tunes.
We will also be launching our loris postcard campaign. We are printing double-sided card with a message to the Indonesian Ambassador in London, regarding the cruelty of illegal wildlife trade and urging the country to enforce their very good laws. If you wish to download a pdf of the card & could print & distribute it to your colleagues, please let us know, as printing costs are very high and we are only able to do a small print run.
Although people can send the cards to the Embassy, another idea is that Anna will collect a bag of cards and letter and with other important conservation emissaries present the collection to the Indonesian ambassador in London.
Comments from this post
Julia Lindsay-Smith on 03/02/2012 at 20:15 said
I’d be willing to print a pdf of the postcard to get friends and family to send to the ambassador. I’m sure lots of people on the facebook site would do the same.
Kass on 03/02/2012 at 21:33 said
Would be happy to print off postcard and hand out to friends.
Pippa on 03/02/2012 at 22:47 said
Hi, could you put the postcard pdf on the website for people to print, hand out and send back to you? If not please do send it on to me and I will do what I can,
Thanks, Pippa x
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