Yesterday, a few of the team members expanded our Javan slow loris presence surveys outside of Garut. I had previously done presence surveys for Sumatran lorises in Bukit Lawang with our colleagues at Green Hill, but this was my first time conducting a survey in Java. One of our previous volunteers (Ina Kathrin-Spey) had developed methods to conduct a survey of Javan slow loris populations, to determine their abundance and distribution across the island of Java. As the majority of Java’s forests have been cut down for farms, it was rather tricky to develop methods for such an extreme, disturbed area. Thanks to the methods she developed, we completed our surveys in the area of Garut, but yesterday we expanded our first (more lengthy) survey, outside the district.
Beginning with interviews, we received a lot of surprised and baffled reactions to a photograph of a Javan slow loris. Many of them had never seen one, or even thought it was a pig! After the interviews, we explained a bit more about the work we do in conservation, education, behavior and outreach. Everyone seemed very keen, and asked if they could join us on our night surveys, to help us save lorises. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do this, as too many people would scare the lorises, and also because we didn’t have nearly enough red head torches for everyone.
We hired one local farmer who knew the area as our guide, and began the trek. Within the first 300 meters we already saw two lorises and got to know all sorts of new flora species that we don’t have in Cipaganti. Due to some earlier rain and steep slopes, we were slipping and sliding all over the place. At one point, it took us 30+ minutes to scale 100 meters up a slope, relying on strong trees to hold us up, and laughing the whole way. After two and a half hours of hiking up the mountain, we were rewarded with a breath-taking view of Garut city at the top of the mountain.
Over 12 hours, we spread awareness of this Critically Endangered species and learned more about it’s distribution range and cultural awareness along the way. And on top of that – we had a bonding night out, exploring a new area with new exciting trees and new friends. Overall, our survey was a success and the start to an exciting new phase for LFP in our efforts to protect the Javan slow loris!
- Katie Reinhardt, PhD Researcher