Between myself and this evening’s tracker, Yiyi, we have easily been on 400 observational nights of loris watch. That’s over 2400 hours of following these small, shy and fantastically cryptic animals through the fragments of Cipaganti’s agroforest. Alongside experience, we also have a heavy arsenal of equipment aiding us in locating the lorises; radio telemetry, red spotlights, ultrasonic microphones… the list goes on. None of this however, seemed to be a match for what One Eye deployed this evening: evolution. Over millions of years of time, lorises have evolved to perfect and fine tune behavioural and morphological adaptations. One in particular was just one step ahead of me and Yiyi this evening; crypsis (the ability of an animal to avoid detection by predators, often used by nocturnal animals using methods of camouflage and mimicry).
After locating the area of strong signal using our radio tracking equipment, we began scanning the area for One Eye, keeping a look out for the classic eye-shine or hint of branch movement. Ten minutes passed with both of us carefully scanning the nearby bamboo, searching the top of nearby trees and clambering underneath the frame of local vine crop known as labu- all with no luck. Delving into my arsenal of equipment, I grab the thermal imaging camera (yeah, like the ones from ‘Cops on Camera’ and ‘Road wars’. Cool, right?). Scanning all around, we located bats and even insects, but no loris. The signals rarely lie, so when it says the loris is here, it must be here. The search continued as I scanned the trees while Yiyi crawled under the labu, looking like some SAS troop wielding the thermal camera.
Twenty-two minutes passed before Yiyi whispered, ‘Dan, look’. I slowly dropped to my knees to look under the labu canopy, and there, only 1 foot away from where I had been standing, One Eye had nestled herself amongst leaves and vines, with only two hands on show. This just made me chuckle and think: the hours of experience we have and hundreds of pounds of equipment we use, still sometimes isn’t enough to contend with these evolutionary tuned, top-class hiders.
- Dan Geerah, Volunteer