Markus celebrating Idul Adha
This week has been a very special one for all of us: For the trackers because they had three days off; and for us because we had to spend three days without seeing our beloved Lorises. You wonder why? As Indonesia’s population is more than 80% Islamic, the Islamic holidays are the most celebrated ones here. And last Tuesday was one of the two most important holidays in the Islamic calendar – Idul Adha (or Eid al-Adha, the other one is Idul Fitri which is the end of the Rhamadan). On this day every good Muslim (or the community) sacrifices a sheep or a cow, to honour the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his first-born son Ismail as an act of submission to Allah’s command and his son’s acceptance to being sacrificed, before Allah intervened to provide Abraham with a Lamb to sacrifice instead. The preceding night people spend in the mosque, praying and drumming. And as every prayer is transmitted via speakers to the environment the air was filled with Quran verses and the inevitable “ALLAHU AKBAR” coming from dozens of mosques in Cipaganti and its surroundings, cumulating to an ear-battering buzzing like of a huge bee hive. At around 3am I fell asleep with a light headache and when I woke up, the sacrifice ceremony already was over and we received a black plastic bag with different parts of the sacrificed water buffalo. People spend the day with prayers and visiting family members, wearing their most precious clothes and having their houses polished to the last corner.
The day before Idul Adha is also a day off for the people here and everybody is on the street, having a chat, eating or just going for a walk. For questionable entertainment a group of three men came with instruments and a dancing macaque. A lot of people joined the show, but I also heard some villagers who disliked it. Let’s hope that in time there is a change in people’s awareness towards this cruel entertainment.
Now the holidays are over and we are back to “business as usual”, observing our Lorises who prefer to hide at the moment because it’s full moon phase again.
Charlotte’ loris adventures
It is appropriate to say now that Loris land is indeed full of endless surprises. After being here a month and a half I have the feeling I’m already giving Christopher Columbus a run for his money at seeing it all. Pak Dendi and I had set out on Thursday night for what was starting off to be a very normal journey into the field for second shift when Pak Dendi and I spotted a very fast moving set of fiery red eyes racing across a 200m stretch of open agro-land. At first we both thought ‘’It’s a civet!’’, another nocturnal spirit of the night. But after a moment we both remembered that the only animal whose eyes shine could be such a fiery red is that of a Loris. ‘’It’s a Loris!?’’ we exclaimed! Both shocked we watched as the non-collared animal bravely made the 200m crossing to arrive at its destination and climb the first tree it reached. It is not uncommon for Lorises to travel along the ground to reach another tree but to witness such a small arboreal primate make such a bold journey across what was a completely non vegetated expanse of land was truly incredible. What was even more surprising is that this daring crossing was made under a very bright full moon which had lit up the landscape providing even less cover. Lorises normally have lunar phobia as a bright moon makes them much more visible to predators. From experience we know that our study Lorises will often hide during these bright lunar periods, but not this guy! Witnessing such an event only goes to prove that Lorises are adapting quickly and effectively to land change pressures happening within their ranges. Loss of suitable habitat, connectivity of tree’s and the constant fragmentation of remaining forest means that these Lorises are having to change their ways and take daring chances like we saw this Loris do. It is a sad reality but these guys are fighters and it is a happy ending for our furry friend as he made it back to the tree-tops where he belongs.
Denise’s involvement in the community
So this past week started off with the arrival of a film crew to Cipaganti. Trans7, one of the national Indonesian television stations came to visit the LFP headquarters to make our lorises and trackers famous! Trans7 is making a children’s tv show in which they introduce 5 of Java’s primates and one of them is the Javan slow loris!!! Imagine how happy we felt! The trackers took them out and will star in the show as holding the antenna that we use to find the collared lorises. Trans7 will let us know when the show airs so we hope to all go and watch it at Pak Dendi’s house with our new projector as a little team outing!
We also had our first team meeting and team photo taken. The meeting went really well! It was lovely to have everyone share ideas about education activities that can help save the loris and the things they had seen in the forest. It was such a hit that it will be a weekly addition to our calendar!
Having a positive presence in the community is a real vital part of our work and this afternoon the girls from the neighbouring houses came round for a colouring session. The colouring session also attracted our neighbours (and parents) of one of our trackers to come round for a cup of kopie (coffee). With the children we drew lorises, octopuses and pretty flowers. We then we decided to trial the boris the loris finger puppets. They were ecstatic and have already asked to come around again tomorrow for some more drawing and colouring. What a lovely ending to the day before we head to see some lorises in the night!!!!
Josie in dress Nirvada!
Another busy week has flown by here in Lorisland and there’s been plenty going on at Rumah hijau. We’re pretty used to living in khakis but this week we were made to feel like Indonesian princesses after being invited to a local Salon and treated to a real pamper session. Nia – the salon owner -speaks very good English and is a creative genius and we spent ages just looking at all her beautiful creations. After a nice chat and some yummy home cooked traditional food she casually invited us to try on some of her dresses. As you can imagine we were ecstatic, the place was like Nirvana for dresses and all things that sparkle.
But what we ended up doing was so much more than just trying on a few bridal dresses! We were whisked into the salon where a team of artists did our hair and makeup – before adding the most incredibly detailed headdresses you can imagine. Four pairs of eye lashes and four tonnes of headwear later we looked like Queens! Our heads should have just rolled off our shoulders under the weight. I got to wear the traditional Sundanese costume and had fresh Javan edelweiss woven into my hair – they smelt incredible. The intricacy of these handmade costumes and pieces was just phenomenal; Nia hand- makes much of it! I can only imagine how many hours of careful construction went into their design. Denise wore the traditional dress of Northern Sumatra and had a crown of gold leaves, I think must have weighed a tonne but she soldiered through. Charlotte was Balinese; she had extra hair pieces added and a crown that made her looks like a gold plated statue of Liberty – so amazing!
To top it all off we were given a photo shoot from a professional fashion photographer and have been told we can collect the pictures next week. For sure there will be some photographs to go on Mum and Dad’s mantelpiece! A great day was had by all and Nia tells us we are welcome at her salon anytime. It was fantastic opportunity to let our hair down whilst continuing to spread the Loris love through the wider community here in Java. We even got invited to a Spa owned by a woman visiting the salon – We’ll be sure to cash in on that one soon! What a week!