During my interview for LFP, I remember hearing the Sharon, LFP’s field station coordinator, tell me that the site in West Java was more of an agroforest than real forest. Thinking that the site would be similar to the lush deciduous forest of Northen Thailand that was also classified as agroforest, which I had visited last summer for an internship at an elephant sanctuary, I was astonished at the state of the habitat of the slow lorises in Cipaganti. No amount of reading about deforestation and looking at pictures could have prepared me for the real thing. Though I am well versed in the deforestation that is rampant all over the world, this is my first time witnessing its very real and devastating consequences face to face. Back at the Thai elephant conservation project last summer, the face of deforestation took the form of rolling fields of bare soil resultant from burning down the forest to grow corn. However, there still appeared to be a good bit of forest left for the elephants to roam. On the surface, this site is not so different from Cipaganti, where the loris habitats encompass vast fields of tea, coffee, and various vegetables. Yet, the disparities lie in the fact that the lorises are forced to live in much smaller areas of forest, which are infinitely more broken up and fragmented than the elephant forests of Thailand. It is truly devastating.
The Little Fireface Project is a glimmer of hope in this sea of devastation. All of the volunteers and staff bond over our shared hope that things will get better for the lorises. It is a breath of fresh air from the rest of society, both Western and Eastern. Everyone here just gets it. We are from all over the world, yet we are united in our laughter, and most importantly our understanding of the real diseases with which humans are plaguing Earth. Everyone gets that our species is the one that have created so many challenges for our fellow earthlings. They get that humans are also part of the solution to at least begin to revert the devastation we have caused. It is certainly a nice change to be around people who are all genuinely working towards the same goal of helping protect animals. Sadly, my time here has flown. With only 3 weeks remaining as part of this wonderful team, I can’t help but feel confused as to where all the time went. I will never get used to the site of seeing the lorises gracefully and acrobatically traverse through the trees. This experience will always be lodged into my memory.
My advice for anyone who is interested in coming to LFP: apply, you won’t regret it. If you can’t make the trip all the way to Indonesia, you can also be part of the solution. My advice to you is to eat local, and go vegan.