EFP Congress LFP talks

EFP

Below is a list of LFP staff and student talks at the European Federation of Primatology’s congress in Rome. We’re very excited to be involved in such a fantastic meeting of like-minded professionals to share the knowledge we gain here about slow lorises!

Wednesday 26th August (poster sessions)

17:30     Priscillia Miard, K. Anne-Isola Nekaris
              First field surveys and Red List assessment of two Bornean slow                                        lorises (Nycticebus menagensis and N. kayan) using local knowledge in Sabah,                 Borneo.

17:30     Siobhan Webster, Louisa Musing, Asier Vazquez, K. Anne-Isola Nekaris
              Public perceptions of threatened slow lorises (Nycticebus spp.) on Web 2.0 sites               and implications for social media reporting policies. 

Thursday 27th August

10:15     K. Anne-Isola Nekaris, Nabajit Das
              Venom in Furs: pelage variation and its implications for slow loris evolution

13:45     Francis Cabana, K. Anne-Isola Nekaris
              Gimme more: Exudates do not characterise a fallback food in the diet of the                         Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus).

15:30     Kathleen D. Reinhardt, Wirdateti, K. Anne-Isola Nekaris
              Relationships between altitude, habitat structure and behaviour of Nycticebus                      javanicus in a submontane agroforest.

Friday 28th August

12:15     Vincent NijmanWirdateti, K. Anne-Isola Nekaris
              Primate trade on Java – an overview of 25 years of market surveys. 

15:30     Averee LuhrsSimon K. Bearder, K. Anne-Isola Nekaris
             The prospective use of occupancy modelling as a tool for monitoring potto                           (Perodicticus ibeanus) populations in Kibale National Forest, Uganda.

New Loris Stars Are Born

Our work this month had a very different spin on it. For the last three weeks, we have been working with a film crew from the Japanese television network, NHK. Their plan is to make a documentary about the slow lorises for broadcast in Japan. As there have been many lorises documented as pets in Japan, extending our conservation message to the Japanese people could potentially have enormous benefits for all species of loris.

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Cameraman Shima films at the local Festival.

Our normal research activities had to take a backseat while we searched for the most interesting loris stories to film, and yet our workload was doubled. This was my first experience working with a film crew and it was a real challenge to make the process work. The film crew consisted of only three members, a camera man (Shima), a producer/lighting director (Mikio, whom we have named Maya’s baby after!), and a translator/coordinator (Tamiko).

What I was most surprised about is that when a film crew arrives at a site, they already have a story in mind and it’s the job of local researchers and local experts to try to make that happen. As you might imagine, wild animals do not always play by the rules or follow a storyline. As a result, more often than not, the story devised for a nature documentary will be very different from the original plan. I was also amazed by how non-invasive they have been in their work. Before the film crew arrived, I feared that they would either disturb the lorises with their bright lights or not be able to see in the dim red light that we use to observe them. Thankfully, they had a high-tech solution. Their ultra-high sensitivity camera allowed them to capture high definition videos while operating in red light even
lower than the red light that we use for observations. It’s an amazing piece of kit.

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Shima films as Anna interacts with the local children.

The NHK crew have had as much luck as they have had misfortune so far. Some of the lorises, in typical loris fashion, decided to hide in bamboo all night. Other nights, the lorises did plenty of travelling and exhibited foraging and feeding behaviour (including one of our female lorises, Lucu, eating some fruit which is not something we often see). These kinds of natural behaviours are great to see at times like this because it means that the film crew are not heavily disturbing the lorises in their nightly routine. Their success has been largely due to the efforts our trackers (Aconk, Adin, Dendi, and Yiyi) who expertly found all of the lorises the film crew wanted to capture on camera.

The film crew filled the role of researchers themselves one night when they became the first to discover that one of our female lorises, Sibau, had given birth to a new baby. Sibau only had a baby earlier this year so this is very interesting news indeed. Babies in our research area are always exciting as it is a sign that the lorises are still healthy and reproducing. Just last week, we collared an adult male in Sibau’s home range. This loris is more than likely the baby’s father. This may allow us to observe how the new arrival affects his behaviour. The timing couldn’t be better.

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The team measure and check the female rescued from an electricity box.

In a strange turn of events, the film crew also became a rescue team. This morning, they left for Cikananga Rescue Center to film some rescue lorises with some precious cargo on board. Last night the LFP team were presented with a young female loris found in an electricity box in the center of Garut, the nearest city to our field site. As the rescue center is roughly an eight hour drive away, it is difficult for us to transport lorises from our field site. Luckily the film crew’s trip to Cikananga was perfectly timed with our rescue, so they took on the job of transporting our city-dwelling, electricity-loving loris (Listrika, named for the Indonesia word for ‘electricity’: listrik).

The last television documentary made about the lorises here (Jungle Gremlins of Java) was back in 2012 by the BBC. The attention that it brought to the plight of the loris was truly amazing. The LFP team cannot wait to see how all the footage comes together and what impact this new documentary will have on the illegal trade in slow loris pets in Japan and elsewhere.

– Robert O’Hagan, LFP Research Coordinator

For the love of Loris

Conservation works in many ways. As pointed out by our Research Coordinator Robert O’Hagan in a previous blog, it is a precarious balance of research, education, and outreach. These past few weeks, for me as Public Relations Coordinator, have been all about outreach within our local community.

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The preparing chefs for our cooking competition are framed by hand-made decorations for the day.

A few weeks ago the idea surfaced to organise an event at the school run by LFP project manager Dendi Rustandi. In the spirit of our annual Pride Days, we decided upon a Festival untuk menyayangi kukang – a festival for loris love. Three weeks of intense planning, shopping, ordering, painting, cutting, colouring, organising, laughing, stressing, budgeting, and celebrating followed. As we were setting up all our newly made decorations on Saturday, I was filled with anticipation. I just wanted it to be a success.

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Katie’s artistic skills were captured perfectly in face-paint, and the children happily showed them off.

As my alarm went off at 04:30, I looked outside and saw the faint orange tinge on the horizon, knowing the day was about to kick off. Myself, Katie, and Peter got dressed, grabbed our stuff, and headed over to the school building. As we put the finishing touches on the place, children and their families started trickling in. Next thing I knew, Katie was giving face-paint to immensely impatient children, Peter was hosting a can pyramid where the kids fanatically threw tennis balls at unsuspecting coke cans, and I was running around frantically looking for things to do. Point was, I was working with amazing people and there was nothing left for me to organise or stress about. Everyone knew what to do – Dendi was being the amazing host he is, Adin was busy preparing the Panjat Pinang, and Rizky was taking a register for the cooking competition. Finally, I started to feel myself relax into the swing of things and grabbed my camera to document the day.

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Piramid Kaleng was popular with boys and girls alike – prizes ranged from lollipops to colouring books.

There were a bunch of events happening throughout the day. As the crowd gathered, Panjat Pinang kicked off, two poles of bamboo with prizes in the top. The aim: climb the pole, grab the prize. The catch: the pole is covered in a mixture of oil, grease, and soap. Soon the playground was filled with laughter as both boys and men clambered over each other to try and get to the top.

 

 

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Prof Anna meets the new Kepala Desa.

More laughter followed as the spoon-race and sack-race started. Competitive but friendly spirits made for a neck and neck race, both between the children and the adults. In the meantime, people were voting for the best drawing for the drawing competition. Thirty-five children that attend Nature Club put their hearts and souls into these drawings. As I was
feeling overwhelmed by what was going on, I turned around and saw a familiar face dismount from a motorbike: previous intern Rifqi had come to give a helping hand. He was soon followed by current intern Helmi, carrying ever more stuff over from our house that I had forgotten in my pre-event slumber.

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Panjat pinan requires team-work, something the children quickly grasped!

Rifqi and Helmi quickly took over my photography duties as I reported for mine: food tasting. It was time to judge the cooking competition, and we struggled tremendously choosing between all the deliciously made gehu and pisang goreng. As we announced the top three, Ibu Siti, Gina, and Heni prepared for the final stage of the competition: nasi goreng. This decision was even tougher, as all three women put in so much effort into their dishes. It’s tough job, but someone’s got to do it…

 

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Imam Nana Sumpena speaks to the crowd.

The afternoon was filled with an inspiring speech by Imam Nana Sumpena from Garut, who talked to the crowd about conservation and Islam. The day finished with an award ceremony, giving out prices to the winners of the numerous competitions as LFP mascots Tereh and Bunga watched. As the crowds later trickled out, we crashed down on the floor to have some food with the team. I can’t say a warm enough thank you to everyone who helped make the day possible – from our loyal friends to the locals attending – and hope we will have many more days like this to come.

– Faye Vogely

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All the children from Nature Club show their colouring books.

Human Nature

Our new volunteer, Peter Rogers, has a background in creative studies. In the below blog, you can read his poetic approach to his first encounter with Shirley. 

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Adin holds the satellite high above his head, the prongs silhouetted black against the sterile light of the gibbous moon. He swivels the radio transceiver, and the blips grow louder and quieter as he gages the direction our target is headed. The target in question is a loris named Shirley, also called the Shy Lady.

She is called “the Shy Lady” for good reason: ever elusive, she has been the bane of trackers and researchers alike since she was first collared in December of 2013, largely due to her preference for dense bamboo thickets. Tonight is no exception; we follow the tracking signal until our headlamps alighted upon a familiar sight.

“Ughhhhh….” Faye sighs regretfully as she gazes at the bamboo forest, with good reason. Of all the habitats lorises tend to use, bamboo is the hardest in which  to track them. Thick, impenetrable, and teeming with insects and invertebrates, it is nigh impossible to maintain a constant surveillance within the terrain. As we approach the thicket, it begins to drizzle, and we are soon coated in a fine sheen of glistening moisture.

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A caterpillar found in the bamboo forest, about four inches long with a crown-like crest on its head. Called the “Kalliandra Caterpillar” by one of our trackers.

Nevertheless, we press on. As soon as we plunge into the bamboo thicket, the atmosphere changes perceptibly. The bamboo provides a shield against the light drizzle, but also pressurizes the moisture within, to the point that the humidity is almost visible; microscopic droplets hovering suspended within the air around us. The canopy surrounds us like an immense womb, and I am forced to rely entirely on the light of my headtorch as the dense mesh of leaves blocks the moon.

Aha!” Faye points triumphantly somewhere to our left. I gaze around to see the eyes of the loris we have so desperately sought. Twin orbs of dying sunlight, bleeding out at us through the dense mesh of leaves; they vanish immediately as the two headtorches are pointed toward them.

At last, we have first contact. We settle down in the soft bed of dead bamboo leaves around us, content to give Shirley the space that the Shy Lady deserves. As we sit in the foliage, scanning the canopy for the telltale eyeshine that will give away Shirley’s presence, I reflect upon the impression that our presence must have on her.

We are children of Humanity; up-jumped primates who wear processed plants as clothing, harnessing the power of electrons to bleed light out into the cosmos. Humanity has already taken so much from Shirley and her fellow loris kin; our cities have encroached upon their jungle home, and the refuse of our overconsumption is ruining what small patches of forest are left to them.

And now we have followed this dwindling species into the last domains left to them, wielding beams of strange light to pursue them for our purpose: data collection. Nevertheless, our presence here is necessary for the continued survival of the Javan slow loris species: we must gather data in order to investigate the factors that have contributed to the species’ population decline. Furthermore, our presence scares off poachers, one of the largest threats to slow lorises in the wild.

It is the paradoxical nature of humanity that we ultimately become the very thing that we hate in the world: since a young age, I have always tried to seek the path through which I could best allow nature to reclaim the ruined tatters that humanity has made of our planet. After long years spent searching the fields of science for the most effective method by which I could pursue my plight, I found the unique niche of Primate Conservation, and eventually discovered the Little Fireface Project. Thus I was finally able to pursue my dream of rectifying the nature that Humanity has destroyed.

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Adin, one of our trackers, hanging out with Safari Micky in the bamboo forest.

I am brought out of my reverie by Faye’s triumphant cry. “She’s been there all along!” I gaze toward the spotlight Faye’s headtorch makes against the foliage, and find myself gazing directly into the eyes of the very loris that we have been trying to find: twin orbs of dying sunlight; flickering embers in the fires of natural Java. The sight of her gaze burned itself into my memory that night, leaving an afterimage that time will never be able to erase.

When I looked into those eyes, I saw a reflection of myself: a tiny critter crawling upon the surface of our rock hurtling through the abyss; the urge to survive, the urge to procreate, the urge to leave some impression upon the vast universe into which we have found ourselves born.

It is so easy to give up. So easy to just sit back and just let the inevitable flow of technology roll over the world, steamrolling our charismatic megafauna and turning the natural world into a distant memory.

Yet there is hope, and I saw it within the eyes of that baleful primate within the canopy of bamboo leaves on that misty July night. Although we yet have much work to do, and many things to learn along the way, there is still hope; twin embers that we may yet reignite, shining on against the darkness of the night.

Standing up for the lorises!

We are inspired and grateful for Nadia’s commitment to help those lorises rescued from the cruel illegal wildlife trade, and to spread the word of the damage just one ‘share’ can do!

Nadia is a good friend of LFP and a huge fan of Amank our amazing carver in Cipaganti. She has volunteered with one of LFP’s project partners, Cikananga Wildlife Centre, and is a great supporter of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, one of LFP’s supporters.

Please take a moment to watch and share Nadia’s video from the ‘because I said I would’ website and Facebook page:

 

WE WISH YOU THE BEST OF LUCK NADIA!!!

We love what Nadia is doing, and here are some ways you can help too:

Cu Li Tuesday: all roads lead to slow loris!

by Stephanie Poindexter

A very typical part of fieldwork, I have spent the last week updating my visa. Splitting my time between Hanoi and Kuala Lumpur, I have finally found a bit of time to really explore what Hanoi has to offer. Though I have been away from the lorises for a few days now, I was able to get my loris fix by meeting up with fellow loris researchers and having a few nice chats with people I met throughout the week.

Hanoi is a beautiful city, rich with history, culture, and an electric buzz that will keep you up all night. Lucky for me they offer a number of museums and historical sites showcasing both their history and culture. I visited most of the major sites including, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Women’s Museum, the Thang Long Water Puppet Show, and the National University, but my favorite by far was the Museum of Ethnology. This museum is one of the most visited attractions in Hanoi and it is easy to see why. Not only do they present an immersive experience describing the many distinct ethnic groups in Vietnam and other parts of Asia, but their open-air exhibit has life sized homes and communal structures, constructed by members of the ethnic groups themselves.

One group of particular interest to me was the Muong People, who live in areas overlapping with Cuc Phuong National Park. As I read about their specific agricultural practices and after seeing a few pictures, I realized that this all felt a bit familiar. Then, I remembered something the new translator at the center said on my most recent night of loris observations. During this specific observation we ventured to a new area out of our normal range in search of Cu Li Hai. She told me that the Muong people live in this area and sometimes at night you can see the children searching for grasshoppers with their little flashlights. A vast agricultural area between huge limestone hills, I didn’t expect to see anyone living here, but when I used my binoculars I could see little houses in the distance. I find it funny that no matter where I am in Viet Nam I can always find connections back to my experiences following the lorises.

Vast agricultural area and home to a small Muong populationVast agricultural area and home to a small Muong population

 

 

In addition to seeing the more cultural side of Hanoi, I also visited Ha Long Bay, which was named by UNESCO as a Natural World Heritage Site. As soon as you set out to sea it is quite obvious why this breathtaking site has captivated the UN. Staying on a boat for 3 days I got to know a few new people and naturally the they asked what was doing in Viet Nam, at which point, I took full advantage of the opportunity to introduce them to lorises and spread the word about their plight within the pet trade. I also got to talk a bit about civet coffee, which is heavenly solicited to tourists in Hanoi. I think I may have enlisted some new Little FireFace supporters 😉

UntitledOne of many pictures I took surrounded by limestone islands in Ha Long Bay.

 

 

I definitely enjoyed my visa run, but I am ready to get back to my nocturnal lifestyle and more importantly back to lorises. Stay tuned, as I get ready to visit a national park near Ho Chi Minh City, where I may get the chance to see some southern pygmy lorises!

 

The next generation

 “Our greatest natural resource is in the minds of our children.”

– Walt Disney

2015 JUN VOGELY - NC PLANTS (39)It only seems fitting that these famous words were uttered by Walt Disney, a man who cared greatly for both youth and the natural environment. Nature Club, an initiative started by LFP in 2012, aims to nurture those minds and provide them with what they need to make a difference in today’s ever-changing world. Our field site in West Java is a combination of beautiful, Indonesian montane forests facing an increasing presence of agriculture. Educating the local children on the importance of protecting what is left is key to preserving the habitat of the slow loris.

Every Friday, children from the surrounding villages are invited to join us for the free Nature Club sessions at Sekolah Mi-Alhidayah. The school, which was built with the help of LFP and its sponsors, is run by our head-tracker and project manager Dendi Rustandi. One of the rooms in the inviting and brightly-coloured building is set aside for the use of Nature Club, and as time passes its walls are slowly becoming plastered in drawings, maps, pictures of animals and plants, and murals.

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Girls listen as Pak Dendi explains about ecosystems.

Nature Club aims to educate by providing fun, involving classes on numerous biological and ecological topics. In the past, the children have learned about wildlife (both local and international) from a theoretical perspective, as well as getting involved in a more hands-on manner. Sessions start with a quick English lesson, teaching the children key words for the afternoon ahead. Following, we ask them to fill in questionnaires on the subject matter. By retaking these tests after a few weeks, we can conduct research into the effect of our work by looking at how much the children retain and how their views of the world around them are changing. After the necessities are over, we aim to keep the lessons light-hearted, fun, and involving. We play games, go outside, or have them conduct basic scientific experiments. As long as laughter fills the air we know we’re doing our job well.

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The Conservation Passport tracks attendance and motivates children to keep coming back – a “diploma” awaits at the end of the curriculum.

At the moment, the focus of the curriculum is on the importance of trees and agroforestry. The children are discovering the botanical world as they build a tree nursery, learning to value trees not just for their ecological, but also for their economic benefits. As the landscape in Cipaganti is facing pressure from agriculture, the loris habitat is slowly disappearing. By educating the children (and, in separate efforts, the farmers) on how trees may benefit both themselves and the lorises, we hope to provide an environment where both species can live closely together.

Working with the children here in Cipaganti is incredibly rewarding. Since we started the new curriculum last month, attendance has increased every week. Whenever I walk through the schoolgates, I am welcomed by a group of excited children: “Miss Pey, miss Pey! Apa kabar?” The only answer I can give, is great. Things here are absolutely great.

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The most important thing: having fun!

Research Ready – LFP’s plans for the future

As the new research coordinator at LFP, I have been charged with the task of bringing LFP’s research projects into the future and increasing our data output and impact. A change in management is a difficult time for any project. Before one can move forward with new research, one must become familiar with the research previously and currently conducted at a field site.

The diversity of tasks carried out by LFP made this a difficult yet rewarding task for me. Our research spans conservation education, behavioural research, sleeping site analysis, small carnivore research, camera trapping, and market surveys. Despite our already wide array of research interests, I plan to expand the research scope of LFP. Unfortunately none of our new research projects are in full swing yet but I can say something about our plans and early stage developments.

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Stephanie Poindexter doing loris observations in our fieldsite in Java.

Two of our current research focuses are based on two of our PhD students, Katie Reinhardt and Stephanie Poindexter. Stephanie is interested in the cognitive ability of lorises and whether or not they use large-scaled spatial memory and directed travel to navigate their home ranges. This involves collecting as much GPS data as possible on the lorises’ movements. Stephanie plans to bolster her dataset with object permanence testing on captive individuals. Object permanence is the term used to describe the awareness that objects continue to exist even when they are no longer visible. In its most simple form, this level of cognitive ability can be investigated by showing the lorises desirable (food) items and then hiding them from view by covering them over with something. If the lorises are observed to remove the cover and take the item rather than assume that the item has vanished, this would provide strong evidence for an awareness of object permanence in lorises. The ability to understand object permanence may help the lorises locate food and other resources and may help us explain how lorises navigate their environment.

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Katie working on her vegetation plots.

Katie’s PhD is just as fascinating. She is interested in slow loris energetics (i.e. how they use and regulate their energy) in a changing climate. Katie’s research is especially relevant now because of the growing threat of global climate change to our planet’s wildlife and because many animals, including our lorises, are being forced up to higher and higher altitudes as human settlements and agriculture encroach further upland. Climate varies with altitude and may be forcing our lorises to behave in new ways to survive. Katie’s research is key to understanding this type of adaptation. Katie’s research will also examine the potential role of lorises as plant pollinators. We are currently setting up our plots in each of our lorises’ home ranges. From these plots, we will collect data on vegetation, phenology (phenology is the study of periodic biological phenomena in relation to climatic conditions e.g. flowering and fruiting seasons), and climatic variables such as temperature and humidity. These data, combined with behavioural data should give us an insight into the effect of climate of loris behaviour.

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The fieldsite in Java experiences a large amount of disturbance in the form of agriculture.

As the single biggest threat to lorises at our field site in West Java is habitat destruction and disturbance due to farming practices, a big focus for me this will be the introduction of agroforestry practices to the area. Agroforestry is the practice of integrating trees into agricultural systems. If done in a systematic and carefully considered way, trees on farms can have huge benefits. Planting trees on farmland can lead to carbon sequestration (which is key in tackling greenhouse gas driven climate change), better water and nutrient cycling (leading to higher crop yields for a reduced input), reduced soil erosion, natural disaster mitigation (by reducing flooding and landslides through soil stabilisation), increased animal biodiversity (through increased plant species diversity and increased habitat area), habitat restoration, economic benefits, and many other things besides. In systems like these, trees provide many services to both humans and wildlife. This project will be a long-term endeavour and will require the construction of a tree nursery and much trial and error with regards to tree species and crop combinations but we hope that our lorises and the other wildlife in the area will feel the positive effects of this in time.

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Tree-tagging with tin tags allows Katie to monitor phenology and habitat structure.

Other studies that are in the pipeline for this year are loris vocalisation research, baseline biodiversity surveys, and small carnivore behavioural observations. Already this year LFP team members have contributed to the publication of around 15 scientific articles on topics as varied as loris evolutionary history, loris venom function, the illegal wildlife trade, loris distribution, loris conservation, and loris captive welfare. I hope that the rest of the year will be even more fruitful. Watch this space.

– Robert O’Hagan, LFP Research Station Coordinator

Tickling IS Torture

Here at LFP We are delighted to see the world getting behind the campaign to save the slow loris from the terrible illegal pet trade!

International Animal Rescue’s (IAR) ‘Tickling is Torture’ campaign has received growing publicity in recent weeks, but we think we can all still do better!

Recently the campaign received some celebrity backing from  TV traveller Simon Reeve, comedian and actress Jo Brand, actor Peter Egan and the TV naturalist Chris Packham; quite a list of supporters.

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Jo Brand IAR

Peter Egan IAR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although people think the slow lorises in these videos look “cute”, healthy and happy, they are often showing signs of high stress levels, obesity and injury. Slow lorises belong in the wild, and we think you would agree when you look at the two photographs below, which loris looks happier and healthier!

 

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So PLEASE sign the pledge, it will only take a few moments!! And take a moment to share the link with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!

You can learn more about why slow loris pet videos are so cruel, from our inspiring Director, Professor Anna Nekaris, here.

And you can watch the IAR campaign video here. Be warned the video contains some heart breaking images but this is the TRUTH behind these “cute” videos, PLEASE watch and learn! Let’s send this video viral and stop the abundance of cruel slow loris pet videos.

You can also support the fightback by wearing the ‘Loris: Forest Protectors, Not YouTube Pets’ message, glowing and bright on your back.

Together we can stop the cruelty of these slow loris pet videos!

Mask Mayhem

Hello Loris Fans,

Please help Endangered Asian Species Trust (EAST) to save the pygmy slow loris.

EAST would like people all over the world to take a selfie with their pygmy slow loris mask on along with a card or flag showing your country, and post these photo’s to their Facebook page. You can download the mask & find out more by visiting their website.

These photos will be shared at a meeting with the Vietnamese government on August 1st, to show the how much loris love there is and how far it spreads, in the hope it will show how important loris conservation is.

Our LFP team in Java have got involved, will you??

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And if one loris mask isn’t enough for you, you can also download one of LFP’s Tereh or Bunga loris masks and post it to LFP’s Facebook page!

PLEASE SHARE THE LORIS LOVE!