For me seeing an animal in its natural habitat is always a privilege but working with nocturnal animals is rather extraordinary. It is like entering a secret world. I know it is quite common to be afraid of what might lurk in the night, but I am fascinated by the creatures that have evolved to live their lives in the darkness, while we sleep.
Navigating the maze of farmers’ fields in the dark with nothing but a red light to guide you is a very surreal experience. You lose your sense of balance at first, especially as the mountain side (or volcano side) where our lorises live is very steep and can be very muddy after heavy rainfall.
As you may know we track our lorises with antennae that would not look out of place on top of your house. The local people must think we are crazy as we walk through the village at dusk with all our tracking gear. The antenna admits a bleeping sound which grows stronger as you near the collared animal.
Once we have found our lorises we sit, avoiding crushing the farmers crops, and observe its behaviour. I find it odd carrying out research amongst a carrot field as I am used to working in a forest. I watch with mixed emotions as it is somewhat sad to see them living in such a depleted habitat. It is like they are making their last stand, in the few remaining trees surrounding the fields. Yet it is encouraging that they are adapting to surviving out here. We have already seen some amazing adaptive behaviours, which will be revealed soon…
Believe it or not slow lorises are actually pretty fast and sometimes we can’t keep up with them as they search the night for insects and tasty kaliandra flowers. Most nights at the moment it rains very heavily and we have to take refuge in one of the kind farmer’s huts. Sometimes you can even feel the volcano rumbling or smell the sulphur as it reminds us that it is very much active.
In Indonesia you never know what is round the corner, so I look forward to the next few months out here 🙂