Since we started the Little Fireface Project field study of wild Javan slow loris in Cipaganti, West Java, we have been very lucky to witness the birth of several babies per year. This is very rewarding for us since baby lorises are the easiest for hunters to catch, and are all too often seen in Java’s illegal wildlife markets. Thus seeing our babies grow up and move to new forest homes is even more exciting, especially when their behaviour is more exciting than an episode of your favourite soap opera.
Our latest loris to leave home and establish his new home range is One Eye’s son Alomah. Alomah got his name from LFP sponsor Augsburg Zoo, which means in Sunda ‘how do you do?’ Born in 2013, Alomah grew up in the home range of mama One Eye, competitive neighbour to another long-observed female Tereh. Slow lorises can ‘pair’ for at least four years, and probably longer. When we first observed Tereh, she was with a male loris Guntur, who mysteriously disappeared. Tereh thus appeared to be a single lady, although she occasionally flirted with One Eye’s long-time husband Azka, which already put her in One Eye’s black book. It was thus scandalous when young Alomah moved just next door to start a romance with older lady Tereh. These two have been bamboo cuddling for the last year and have just had their own first baby! Seeing the lineages of our lorises grow is so exciting and it will be interesting to see just how similar the new baby is to its mother and to sometimes rival sometimes grandma One Eye.
Family ties may be strong, but first love can be a challenge to the tightest of bonds. Recently, volunteer Dan saw this first-hand, when Tereh and Alomah met Azka and One Eye at their home range boundary. Alomah is a sweet loris, and it seemed he just wanted his new wife to meet the parents. Azka and One Eye clearly did not approve of this Mrs Robinson relationship, and a spat broke out that could have even become venomous! Fortunately, silence reigned, and these two pairs are now keeping their distance. As if to solidify his bond with his new lady, Alomah has nightly been seen bringing her flowers (that is sipping the nectar of calliandra flowers with her – loris’ favourite food!), giving her long baths (via social grooming where lorises lick each other like lazy cats), and of course taking up his share of taking care of the new baby!!
Although this story is cute and exciting, the happiest ending of all is to see these lorises wild and free, with new generations finding their way in Cipaganti’s agroforest. This unlikely habitat, where farmers and lorises live side-by-side, depends on local people caring for the lorises and not allowing them to be hunted. Seeing three generations of lorises in just a few hectares lets us see that is exactly what is happening!
- Anna Nekaris, LFP Director