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.

Volunteering for Conservation Education - 23/07/2017

So often, when looking for volunteering opportunities in wildlife conservation or research, you’ll see images of deep dark forests, scientific observations, rescued animals being fed or sometimes even played with, etc. However, something that isn’t always pushed forward into the public eye is the massive amount of outreach and education work that is done at these centres.

It is well known how important of a role conservation education plays in shaping human actions, and more and more conservation organizations are working this into their daily programmes. Thanks to today’s technologies, schools in Europe and North America are able to be linked to schools across south-east Asia and Africa, bringing children closer than ever to the forefront of conservation.

We here at the Little Fireface Project recognise this importance and have launched several education programmes because of it. We believe that one of the best ways to protect future generations of wildlife, is to education future generations of humans! By teaching local children slow loris ecology in a fun, positive atmosphere, we are helping them to love wildlife as much as we do. In this way, a new generation of slow loris – loving locals might one day choose more wildlife-friendly farming practices, or perhaps speak out against illegal pet trade when they see it, or even go on to run their own conservation organisations! The possibilities are endless when you stand on a solid education.

Here’s a closer look at some of the programmes that we’re running now at our main field site in West Java.

Nature Club

We hold two weekly classes at the local primary school in the village of Cipaganti. Here we run 3-month long curriculums each with a new theme, all aiming to create a curiosity and love of the natural world that our students live in.

This year we have 60 students aged 5 to 12! They’re split into three classes each going through our curriculum at their own pace. They’re currently finishing up “A Healthy Forest”, where children worked on projects related to forest ecosystems, ecology, and food chains, and will soon begin our next exciting curriculum: “Building Bridges for Slow Lorises” which will incorporate characterisation and interactive lessons on forest connectivity and slow loris social structure.

Slow Loris Forest Protector

For the last 3 years, LFP team members have visited schools throughout West Java to deliver our fantastic conservation education programme: Slow Loris Forest Protector. Using an original story book, children are taught about slow loris ecology and the special relationships that they have to the forest as well as to farmers.

Children learn through story-telling, drawing, craft-making and play! Results of this programme have been fantastic and even published in international journals!

  • Sharon McCabe
  • Field Station Coordinator