You won’t regret it!

During my interview for LFP, I remember hearing the Sharon, LFP’s field station coordinator, tell me that the site in West Java was more of an agroforest than real forest. Thinking that the site would be similar to the lush deciduous forest of Northen Thailand that was also classified as agroforest, which I had visited last summer for an internship at an elephant sanctuary, I was astonished at the state of the habitat of the slow lorises in Cipaganti. No amount of reading about deforestation and looking at pictures could have prepared me for the real thing. Though I am well versed in the deforestation that is rampant all over the world, this is my first time witnessing its very real and devastating consequences face to face. Back at the Thai elephant conservation project last summer, the face of deforestation took the form of rolling fields of bare soil resultant from burning down the forest to grow corn. However, there still appeared to be a good bit of forest left for the elephants to roam. On the surface, this site is not so different from Cipaganti, where the loris habitats encompass vast fields of tea, coffee, and various vegetables. Yet, the disparities lie in the fact that the lorises are forced to live in much smaller areas of forest, which are infinitely more broken up and fragmented than the elephant forests of Thailand. It is truly devastating.

The Little Fireface Project is a glimmer of hope in this sea of devastation. All of the volunteers and staff bond over our shared hope that things will get better for the lorises. It is a breath of fresh air from the rest of society, both Western and Eastern. Everyone here just gets it. We are from all over the world, yet we are united in our laughter, and most importantly our understanding of the real diseases with which humans are plaguing Earth. Everyone gets that our species is the one that have created so many challenges for our fellow earthlings. They get that humans are also part of the solution to at least begin to revert the devastation we have caused. It is certainly a nice change to be around people who are all genuinely working towards the same goal of helping protect animals. Sadly, my time here has flown. With only 3 weeks remaining as part of this wonderful team, I can’t help but feel confused as to where all the time went. I will never get used to the site of seeing the lorises gracefully and acrobatically traverse through the trees. This experience will always be lodged into my memory.

My advice for anyone who is interested in coming to LFP: apply, you won’t regret it. If you can’t make the trip all the way to Indonesia, you can also be part of the solution. My advice to you is to eat local, and go vegan.

  • Nam
  • Volunteer

One year of wild ride

This week exactly marks my one year of working with this awesome slow loris conservation organization. I can’t believe it’s already one year.

I came here the first time as a research assistant volunteer for PhD researcher, Katie. I planned to volunteer for just three months. I thought it was going to be long enough, but I was wrong. Three months were too short, especially when I treasured it and time flew quickly, so I decided to extend for another two months. My job was mostly involving night observation, following a radio-collared slow loris for at least 6 hours each nights. The work starts at 5 – 11 pm for first shift or 11 pm – 5 am for second. Honestly, I don’t really care about having a first shift or second one. They have their own benefits. For instance, I can at least sleep while the night is still on after having a first shift, but sometimes I have to wait a little bit longer for the replacing second-shift team to arrive at our site and replace us. While second shift is usually colder, I feel that the time weirdly goes faster during this shift. I have to sacrifice second half of the night, though, but I could see the beautiful sunrise after the shift is finished. I don’t know how many hours I have spent, but I could say that every nights and every lorises that I had followed had their own unique stories.

Again, time went quickly. Back in November 2016, It was supposed to be my last few weeks in Cipaganti, but I was offered with Wildlife Trade Officer (WTO) position. WTO main responsibilities are to conduct animal market surveys, online trade research, and manage the data. Eager to know what’s gonna happen if I took the job and still wanting to involve myself in conservation area, especially with slow lorises and such an amazing team, I decided to take it.

To be honest, the job is like a double edged sword. On one hand, I could see the biodiversity that my country should have, on the other hand, it is also painful to see thousands of them being caged and sold. I have seen a lot of wildlife, mostly birds sold in markets across Java and Bali. This is saddening. Imagine being the bird inside the cage –your freedom is taken away and you couldn’t do anything, but to sing to cherish your master-. Not just the birds, but the other kind of wildlife too. For the online trade research, I am focusing on the slow loris trade as the traders in the animal markets have openly displayed less slow lorises to sell due to confiscation and law enforcement and shifted to online method which they assume it is safer. It is so devastating that each months, I see many slow lorises being advertised online and there are still a lot of people who are excited to buy them. The condition of the slow lorises can rip your heart apart as they seem not well taken care. Apart from the devastating things about being WTO, I am given chances to travel across Java, and recently Bali. The main goal is to visit the markets in each regions, but I can always find something to enjoy the places where I stay.

At the field station, when the others and I have leisure time, we usually play board games. I enjoy board games (especially kaboo!) as this is one of ways that can bring us together. There has been countless of laughter, not just while playing board games, but during other things to. Being here for one year also means that I have said a lot of goodbyes to returning volunteers. I guess this is the part that I hate the most as we are not going to see each other again.

I love working with Little Fireface Project and the supportive and hilarious team of staffs, volunteers, and trackers. All I can say is that It’s been a wild wonderful ride. I learnt a lot. I have met amazing people from the other parts of the world who become my family as the time goes by. The experience is priceless.

  • Abdullah Langgeng