Loving Life in Cipaganti!

Hi, Everyone! My name is Abdullah. I am from Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia. I have been here for two weeks, so for the rest of this blog I’ll tell you how it feels being a new Indonesian volunteer at LFP.

Well, the first LFP activities that I went through did not happen in Cipaganti Village. I went to Bekasi to attend a BGBJ (Bantar Gebang Bekasi Jawa Barat) event because the LFP team was learning how people in the area could recycle waste into profit. I also met two other new Indonesian volunteers there. We had a tour around a waste area and it was kind of an eye-opening moment to see that so many local people still lived around and from it and more than 2000 tons of rubbish were thrown there every day. Solutions are urgently needed!

After that, the team headed back to Rumah Hijau. When we arrived, the rest of the team who did not join BGBJ warmly greeted us. They are very nice and fun people. I had an experience of working with multinational team only for several weeks last year, but working and living under the same roof with them for months? I believe it will be another good story, which it turns out it is.

visiting BGBJ with other members of the team

Visiting BGBJ with other members of the team

The next day, the workday began. We had a week full of training. We were trained about first aid and then I got practices on nectar and pollen collection, capturing, night observation, vegetation plots and loggers, and setting camera traps. This is something AMAZING because I never had a chance to do that while I was in college, except the vegetation plot. It’s all novel to me, even the night observation because I had only ever done day focal observation for my undergraduate research and it’s a little bit different.

learning how to set camera trap

learning how to set a camera trap

To be honest, I find it a little bit more challenging to work in the daytime rather than night. It is still Ramadan, a month where most adult muslims are obligated to fast from dawn to dusk and I fast, so when I do some activities such as vegetation plots and camera traps, the thirst and hunger are multiplied, especially because they require us to hike the steep terrain and I could not drink and eat anything at all until dusk. In addition, some trackers and people in LFP were getting sick due to the weather and I was worried about my health too when I had lower nutritional intake while fasting. Somehow, I managed to finish my tasks, complete the fastings, and stay healthy. I thank God for that.

The weirdest feeling in Cipaganti is maybe the mixed feeling of “Nooooo… I do not want a second shift for night observation. I just want to go to bed early….” since the second shift happens at 12 am to 5 am and the feeling of “Oh my God! It’s so adorable. I want to know what kind of behaviours it will show us tonight” once you step up, get out of the house, move to the agroforest, spot the lorises, and observe their behaviours. It is such a pure joy when you witness that. Honestly, the feeling of I-just-want-to-sleep-right-now is still there, but it can not triumph that joyful moment of observing slow loris’s adorable movement. Plus, sharing random stories with partners or trackers or enjoying the serenity under the moonlight of the Cipaganti agroforest are good options to spend the night while waiting for a slow loris to act.

night observation on denpa that was hiding behind dense foliages

night observation on Dempak who was hiding behind dense foliage

Volunteering here is already an amazing experience. I learn a lot of new things from the project and learning novel things is another pure joy for me. I don’t know how to explain that kind of joy, but when you do it, you feel content. I believe  volunteering will be a great opportunity for those who want to embark on masters, Ph.D study, or getting involved in professional world of primate conservation. Also, the Javan slow loris is native to Indonesia, so we all as world citizens have an obligation to protect our endangered species, we Indonesians must work especially hard to protect them!

  • Abdullah, PhD Research Assistant

Palm Oil Plantations Will Never be ‘Wildlife Friendly’

Agricultural expansion is one of the main threats to biodiversity. Oil palm plantations have received a lot of attention recently because they are competing with primary rainforests in Southeast Asia. Moreover, oil palm (Elais guineensis) is one of the most rapidly expanding commodity crops. Many studies consistently showed that oil palm plantations support lower animal diversity than native forests.
Aerial view of a palm oil plantation (Photo credit: World Wildlife Fund)

Aerial view of a palm oil plantation (Photo credit: World Wildlife Fund)

In a recently published paper in Ecological Applications*(http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1890/14-1928.1/abstract), Yue and colleagues investigated if oil palm plantation traits could be manipulated to make those plantations more “wildlife friendly”.
 
They set up camera traps in oil palm plantations and adjacent forests in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo to document mammal diversity. They found that species richness dramatically decreased in oil palm plantations with decreasing forest proximity, from 14 species in the forest to about 1 species 2 km into the plantation. They did not find any influence from the plantation traits such as tree height or canopy cover. Their results strongly suggest that manipulating oil palm plantations traits will not make it more welcoming for wildlife. The authors concluded that conservation efforts should mainly focus on land-sparing strategies rather than trying to make oil palm plantations wildlife-friendly.
*Yue S., Brodie J.F., Zipkin E.F. & Bernard H. (2015). Oil palm plantations fail to support mammal diversity. Ecol. Appl., 25, 2285-2292.
  • Marie Sigaud, Research Coordinator

A Camping Competition

Aconk, starting the hike

Aconk, starting the hike

First we stop at the football field, and I thought the camping will going like a camping for junior high school or elementary school because the thing on my mind is because we stop in football field with the smooth grass and really close by the main road, shop, juice shop etc, and we`ll just be cooking, chatting, and blah..blah..blah.. but it was different. We had to walk for more than 15 km before we can set up our tent and that was tiring, but fun, a lot of things are happening. On the way to get to another spot we can see really nice views, birds, villages and really nice people, and they are so welcoming with sweet smiles. On the way we did struggle a little, we saw one man carry a lot of firewood and he seemed to enjoy it when we really struggled to get up the hills! We also see a group of ladies just get back from the tea field and they are really cute and we have chat for a bit, they laugh at us as well because we are young and fresh but get tired but the old ladies carry a lot of, they are very strong! I am really proud of them, they have a hard life but they seem happy and enjoying their lives, I can see that from their happy faces.

Happy farmers who met the team on the hike

Happy farmers who met the team on the hike

Nearly at the campsite!

Nearly at the campsite!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this event they have some category of competition like time keeping, planting trees, knowledge, and many more. I am happy to be in this event because we met with so many difference people from different professions, organizations, places. Maybe there is around 300 people in this competition that we can share about our experience of nature or anything. We might not have won anything but we are still having fun!

Katie, Wita and Sam competing in the tree planting event

Katie, Wita and Sam competing in the tree planting event

The thing I learn from this event is communication is important for sharing about nature and environment, to keep it ever lasting, so all our generations can still see it.

2016 May Aconk - interviews Sam

There were lots of people to talk to about conservation and ideas. We were even interviewed about the LFPs work

  • Aconk, LFP Agroforestry Officer

Jump Right In!

Ah, my first few days in Indonesia, this place is like nowhere I have ever been before. I’ve travelled more than most people my age so I can say I’ve seen a good amount of the world. Coming here I had no idea what to expect, seeing as I’ve never been to Asia and I didn’t really know anyone from this part of the world growing up. I was fortunate enough to have sat next to a nice Indonesian girl on the plane who goes to school in St. Louis, so she gave me a quick rundown of what to expect and some things I should know going in. I will be honest though, although she had good intentions, she really didn’t give me a great heads up of what I was about to walk into.

- The view from the research area of our lorises

– The view from the research area of our lorises

When I got off the plane she was nice enough to call me a taxi. The gentleman she spoke to was a nice man named Pak Heru. The project here uses Heru for all their taxi needs around Jakarta and I see why. Watching other drivers, I saw he was a bit more conservative than most AND he makes good time. Talk about efficiency. I got to the hostel in Jakarta around 2am and passed out immediately. I woke up around 7 the next morning and called a taxi to take me to the bus station. Apparently, I had just missed the bus departure because he stopped somewhere behind the bus and forcefully got me out and starting running after the bus. Confused, I got the money out and grabbed my bags. Literally all in stride, someone got off the bus grabbed my luggage, threw it under the bus and herded me on. All while running with the bus down the street. With 5 hours of sleep in 30 hours I wasn’t too shocked by the experience more just happy to be on the bus where I could sit down and sleep for the 6-hour ride. Of course that wasn’t the case.

I step on the bus and end up stepping over people sitting on the stairs. This bus was packed to the gills like a can of sardines. I ended up standing up for 5 out of the 6 hours. This sounds like a horrible experience, but this was my first experience with real Indonesian people and they truly showed me the definition of hospitality. Of course they knew I was a foreigner just by my appearance, so a younger guy who spoke English came up to me and introduced himself. I wish I could remember his name but I was so tired there was no way I could remember that. Him and his buddy chatted me up with regular conversation, and then the parade of vendors started pouring on. It was like Skymall but better. People with all sorts of beverages came on, as well as snacks and baked goods. People selling watches, wallets, flashlights, you name it I saw it. At a few points people came on with ukuleles singing songs. All of a sudden someone handed me a water, and then it was on. I don’t know what I was eating but people were just handing me food. Funny thing is I didn’t know that Indonesian food is spicy and watching me eat spicy food is pretty entertaining. As soon as I bit into the first little piece of cake I saw a pepper hanging out in the package. All of a sudden my face turned bright red and I started chugging the water. All the Indonesians started laughing hysterically at me because of course they’re used to all the spices. After the most interesting bus ride of my life, I finally made it to Garut where I met the project manager Laura. We ate lunch since I hadn’t eaten a proper meal in like two days, got on an angkot, then an ojek and all of a sudden we were at the project house. I passed out immediately.

The next morning I was eager to get out and explore the village and the forest I was going to be working in. After sunrise I packed up my stuff and headed out on a walk up the hill. I made it into the farmland and kept walking for about 2 hours until I met a few farmers who stopped me to chat. Their English was very poor and I knew little if any Indonesian, but from what I was able to work out one of them wanted to come with me to be a guide because he knew I was going to get lost up there. This kind gentlemen’s name was Ahmad. We walked for about an hour up into some really dense, really steep overgrown farmland. Eventually I couldn’t keep up so I told my new friend we had to go back.

We headed back to where we met and when we got there they treated me to some coffee and some bananas. Those bananas were the best bananas I’ve ever had in my life, probably the freshest I have to assume. We hung out for a bit and then he pointed to his dirt bike and says “offroad?” and pointed up the mountain. What was I going to say, no? I got on the back and we headed up the little dirt paths going up. Eventually the bike got too big and the path too small for the both of us to continue up that way so we got off and continued on. I must’ve stopped 10 times in the hour we walked up the rest of the way. I’m not in bad shape, but Ahmad made me look like I’ve been completely immobile for the past 4 years. All I wanted to do was get to the top where there was no farmland because there’s proper forest up there, not agroforest, but I couldn’t even make it that far. I couldn’t help but think Ahmad was amused by me struggling up to the top because every time I asked him to stop he would start chuckling. When we got to the highest point we were going to we looked out over the valley. He showed me where all the cities and villages were. He pointed out Garut to the left, Cipaganti the the right, and Bayongbong in the middle. It’s nice to get an aerial perspective of where you are – it helps when you’re trying to navigate where you’re going. Anyway we walked back to the bike, which was almost as hard as the way up trying not to slip on the mud paths. He drove me straight back to the house where I proceeded to pass out immediately and sleep for a ridiculous amount of time.

- The best bananas in Sams life.

– The best bananas in Sams life.

I was really nervous before I left because I didn’t know what to expect from Indonesia. I had heard some things but you never go by what you hear because it’s all hearsay. I had a friend who had been here recently and she had a blast, so I was optimistic but nonetheless nervous. My first two days here were better than I could’ve asked for and set me up for what seems like a great volunteer term at The Little Fireface Project.

- Relaxing after a hike with some farmers on his first day

– Relaxing after a hike with some farmers on his first day

  • Sam Weiss, Volunteer

Pollinators of Cipaganti

The dry season is nearly here, and all of the Calliandra calothrysus seeds are beginning to disperse! One third of the loris diet in Cipaganti is consumed from Calliandra calothrysus—a legume species, commonly known as ‘fairy dusters’, or locally known as ‘kaliandra merah’ in Indonesian. There are two types of kaliandra here—kaliandra merah (red flowers) and kaliandra putih (white flowers). Both species are on different phenology cycles, so they are blooming flower and fruit at different times of the year. Right now, all of the kaliandra merah seed pods are beginning to pop open, shooting their seeds out at a distance with this unique evolutionary adaptation to improve seed dispersal. It almost sounds like popcorn popping around you in the forest watching the lorises at night. Lorises regularly use both species of kaliandra to travel, forage for insects, and play and socialize with other lorises, but they only feed on the floral nectars from kaliandra merah.

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Seed pods of the kaliandra.

This topic caught my interest in 2013, and I’ve been dying to look more into the topic. I want to know why lorises only feed from the kaliandra merah, what the energetic rewards of the nectar are for lorises, if lorises are pollinators of this species, and how an invasive species introduced circa 50 years ago can be so ecologically fitting. Calliandra is not native to Java. It’s a legume that originates from South and Central America. Farmers discovered it could benefit their farm soils and crop yields, as well as provide feed for their livestock. But how is such a new species thriving so well across Java?

In order to try and solve this question, I have been focusing much of my time on these legume species – not just observing their relationship with lorises, but all mammals, bird, bats and insects as well. I want to identify all species that interact with them to try and determine who pollinates it and which environments they thrive in to allow this ecological fit.

In addition to detailed behavioural data on loris interactions with the tree (and I’ve previously described to you the all-night ‘tree follows’ I was conducting to determine what nocturnal species feed on them), I am also conducting all-day ‘tree follows’ with our entomologist, Albie. With Albie’s help, he can identify what species of insect are feeding or foraging on the kaliandra. Meanwhile, I regularly taking nectar, fruit and seed samples from these trees to measure what energetic rewards these inflorescences have to offer. Checking the phenology of these trees every other week (measuring the stage and quantity of flower and fruit) also helps us to see when they produce food for lorises and other species.

And finally, these are the pollination control plots. In one of my earlier blogs, I talked about the pollination bags and pollination boxes that myself and Adin had built and set up around kaliandra merah. These work to control who can/can’t pollinate flowers of a given tree. The bags prevent any species from pollinating, and test for self or wind pollination; the pollination boxes have a larger netting around them to allow insects to feed on the flowers, but prohibit bat, bird or mammals from accessing them; and now, we’ve created isolated trees, to test if non-flying animals are significant pollinators.

We searched for kaliandra trees that had no connectivity to other trees, and then created an aluminium barrier around the trunk that mammals couldn’t grip to climb. We check each of these pollination plots every other week, taking data on the tree phenology – so we can measure the influence these different controls have. From this, we can deduct who is a significant pollinator, and what ecosystem type kaliandra benefits in.

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The aluminium barrier used to restrict pollinators accessing the kaliandra.

So how does this benefit the lorises? Lorises are very often found in agroforest areas. This puts them both at risk of fragmentation and the human-primate interface (when humans and primates live in the same area, often putting them at risk of disease and hunting for the pet trade). Since kaliandra has been proven to be beneficial for farmers (as it enhances their soils) we can then provide education in the area both about the importance of lorises remaining in the forest, and how kaliandra can benefit their farming practices. Then, not only will lorises be left to live in the wild, but they will also have plenty of kaliandra to feed on, in their preferred habitats. This is a good example of our different branches of research at LFP all overlapping to help loris conservation—education, behaviour, ecology and agroforestry.

  • Katie Reinhardt, PhD Researcher

Greetings from the Whoop Troop in Viet Nam!

Since leaving Cipaganti, the puppets and I have settled in at the beautiful Dao Tien Endangered Primate Species Centre in southern Viet Nam.  Run by the Endangered Asian Species Trust (EAST), Dao Tien focusses on the rescue, rehabilitation, and where possible, the release of endangered primates native to south Viet Nam.

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I wake every morning at 5.15 to the wonderful whoops of golden cheeked gibbons duetting.  Much better than an alarm clock!  The gibbons at Dao Tien are all victims of illegal hunting and trade.  Most were taken from their families at an early age and kept in appalling conditions, so it takes years to nurture them back to physical and psychological health and give them a chance to return to the forest.  Some are too damaged by human contact to survive in the wild and will live out their lives at Dao Tien.  Take a look at EAST’s website www.go-east.org to see some of the gorgeous primates in our care at the moment.

So how do the puppets and I fit in?  By day we’re working with students in Thanh Binh High School as part of my Whoop Troop project, connecting with students in LFP’s Alum Nature Club and Situwangi School to learn about native animal species common to Viet Nam and Java.  The Thanh Binh Troop are creating a fantastic puppet show which they will perform in six villages around Cat Tien National Park.  Education and awareness raising are an important part of EAST’s work to help stop the illegal trade in endangered primates.  We run two daily tours of the Centre and have many Vietnamese and foreign visitors coming to see what we do and learn about primate conservation.

By night, it’s the turn of the pygmy slow lorises to emerge.  The huge increase in the illegal trade in lorises for pets, tourist props and medicine mean that we’re completely full of rescued pygmy lorises, with a new enclosure planned this year to keep up with the flood of new arrivals.  If you think Javan lorises are amazing, click here to take a look at the pygmy slow loris on the Endangered Asian Species Trust’s Facebook page! At only 400g, the tiny pygmy loris is the smallest loris species, but they still pack the venomous bite of their larger cousins.

Last week LFP’s Dan Geerah visited Dao Tien bringing the equipment to detect ultrasonic animal calls.  After some expert training from Dan, I’ve gone nocturnal to find out if the pygmy slow lorises of Viet Nam use ultrasonic calls to communicate.  We’ve recently released some pygmy lorises so it’s a great opportunity for me to find out if they use these secret calls.  Understanding more about pygmy loris communication can help with rehabilitation and release programmes and in monitoring wild loris populations.  My favourite night shift is midnight to 5 a.m., which starts with tranquil hours in the forest and ends with the slow gathering of dawn and the sounds of waking birds and insects.  When I hear the whoops of Dao Tien’s gibbons and their wild neighbours in Cat Tien National Park, I know it’s time to head home for bed.

‘Sequestered Nooks and the Serenity of Books’

“… Building my habit of learning and growing,

Asking and researching till I reach knowing.

Here I’ve been a mermaid and an elf

I’ve even learned to be more myself.

I think that I shall never see

A place that’s been more useful to me.

With encouraging kind friends with wit

Who tell me to dream big and never quit.

It’s only a room with shelves and books,

but it’s far more magical than it looks.” – Varda One

There is no other poet that I feel quit strikes the value of books and libraries in learning like Varda One’s My Library.

Over the past few years of the project’s establishment in the village, Cipaganti, we have acquired a decent collection of literature at the field station. From fiction novels to scientific articles to field guides and children’s books, reading material has been regularly left behind and donated by volunteers and staff, both past and present. Our collection had grown large enough that we decided it needed a proper ‘home’ where it could be easily accessed, and chose our volunteer room. The volunteer room is arguably the busiest room, where most of us spend our time. We use this room for team meetings, socializing, and even doing work. This room also has a front door, which is our main entrance to the house and is always open during the day. Grazing the back wall of this room is a set of stairs with a little nook carved out underneath with shelves. These shelves have been relatively barren since a recent full-house spring cleaning, and it seemed the perfect home for our collection – not just because it is a cozy nook, but because it is the first thing you see when you open the main door.

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– LFP’s new ‘Perpustakaan Alam’ (Nature Library)

Deciding to organize the library by category, I immediately (and gladly) dove into the assortment, skimming each piece of literature, accompanied by the melodic melodies of David Bowie (as you do). I divided the contents of scientific journal articles by various research topics; field biology methods from primatology to entomology; field guides for each of the Indonesian islands; leisure novels from fiction to biographies; children’s books for various ages; and the most inspiring of all, reports and dissertation outputs from previous researchers and volunteers who worked with the project. Going through all of these was overwhelmingly exciting, but the most beautiful thing about it—the entire catalogue is made up of various languages, displaying the diversity of people we have joined the project, including Indonesian, German, English and French. It was like going through a rainbow of cultures, printed in black and white.

After only having set up the library last night, we already saw people interested in it this morning. Some of the children who regularly visit us on their way home from school came by, calling to us from the front door. As I went to say hello, one boy was staring at the library glaring back at him. I had tried to arrange the library as best as I could to display the diversity of contents and languages to attract all ages and topics, and it seemed to be effective for the children. These kids had originally been asking to draw and color, but now asked if they could read a book the was propped up, front and center in Bahasa Indonesian: Kukang: Sang Penjaga Hutan ( Slow Loris: Forest Protector). Unable to resist any reading session, I abandoned my spontaneous cleaning spree, and joined them. Enjoying this moment, I couldn’t help but reflect what a beneficial learning process this was for the both of us – them to practice their reading, and me to practice my Indonesian. After finishing this book, they requested to read one after the other.

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– One of the children reading the Forest Protector book in Indonesian

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– Ade wanted to read the Fidgety Fish!

I have always been a regular at my local libraries, and I truly believe it is one of the most beneficial things for learning and growth. I only hope that our library will continue to grow and the news will continue to spread, that our library is open for all to use. Who knows – if days like today continue, we may need to start a Klub Buku (book club)! Because as Diane Duane once said, “Reading one book is like eating one potato chip”. It just doesn’t happen.

  • Katie Reinhardt, PhD Researcher

Butterfly, Flutterby, Feeding Lorises in the Sky

Upon arrival in Cipaganti after a warm welcome and a warmer cup of tea, Dan (one of the volunteers) asked me if I wanted to join the team doing mist netting surveys of the local bat species. Happy to be thrown in the deep end and see what the forest has to offer in terms of fauna we made our way up to a small patch of bamboo 5 minutes from the village. The first thing that struck me was how noisy the forest is at dusk, and although the prayers from the Mosque do play their part it was the vast number of insects that lit up the area with their calls. Although we were largely surrounded by crops, which at home in the UK usually do very little for insect diversity, the impression of the biological diversity represented by the insects is impossible to be missed. The stridulation of grasshoppers and cicadas at night sometimes make small talk a burden, and during the day when you venture off of the beaten track (although this isn’t even necessary) emerald green praying mantises perch poised and ready for prey and huge birdwing butterflies soar between the foliage.

Flutterbye

Praying Mantis

I have come to LFP to investigate the insect diversity here and look into the roles that they play both for the lorises and the ecology of the agroforest here. For the next two and a half months I will be conducting lots of surveys to measure the diversity of the invertebrates as well as trying to work out the insect pests that the farmers encounter. Additionally I will be trying to better understand how insect diversity and abundance effects loris behaviour and the foraging requirement that lorises may have regarding insect prey. During nightly behavioural observations that are being done here many a loris can be seen munching on insects, but the exact insect groups that they consume in the wild is still unclear. Once this has been resolved we can begin measuring how the insect prey abundance and behaviour may effect loris behaviour and movement.

To put this in context for loris conservation, in collaboration with Katie who is looking at the effect of climate on behaviour of lorises I will be trying to measure what effect altitude has on insect populations. In other words, if the lorises are moving to higher altitudes (due to habitat disturbance and increased temperatures at lower altitudes), will they have any insects to munch on?!?

Get the kettle on and get the net out, let’s find out!

Field work

  • Albie Henry, LFP Researcher

 

One Person At A Time

Hello, all. My name is JoooBooo. I am a slow loris, and I’m currently in West Java, Indonesia educating people about slow loris conservation and helping care for captive lorises. My mission is huge, but with overwhelming love, I reach out.

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JoooBooo trying on the slow loris mask he made at Klub Alam (Nature Club)

Sometimes it seems overwhelming. Wildlife conservation is an exhausting job. Trust me, I just had to take a few days off to recuperate in Bandung. Watch some wildlife shows on TV, get some delicious bugs to eat. But after that time off, I came back feeling more positive than ever and ready to work again. And as discouraging as it sometimes seems, I realized once again that every little bit helps. This is partly due to a wonderful conversation I had with a hotel employee in Bandung. I was explaining my purpose in being here, and why my dedication to my cause was so strong (besides the fact that I’m a loris). And the employee, Yudi, asked me what he and others can do to help. So I told him. It was that simple. Did that solve the problem completely? No, but it’s a good start.

It seems like a lot, working every day and still seeing so many lorises at wildlife markets and in captivity. And seeing that so many of those captive lorises cannot be released, their teeth having been removed or filed down, or having suffered other injuries that prevent them from surviving in the wild. But we have to focus on the positive. Those captive lorises at rescue centers are living healthier, more natural lives than they would as pets, even if they are not in the wild. It may be second best in that case, but it’s better than the alternatives. And every person you educate can make a difference.

In the past month, three lorises have been brought to Little Fireface Project. Two were released immediately, as they were wild and had wandered into the village. The message of LFP has spread far enough that the local people recognized them as being wild, and were trying to protect them by making sure they were properly released. The third loris was someone’s pet, and a friend of its owner convinced them that the loris should not be a pet. This little one, Dodol, has been taken to the Cikananga Wildlife Rescue Center to see if she can be released in the future or not.

JoooBooo on route to take Dodol to Cikananga Wildlife Rescue Centre

JoooBooo on route to take Dodol to Cikananga Wildlife Rescue Centre

So the message is this: the news that reached those people may have been slow, and it may have seemed like a lot of work at the time. But that is three lorises saved. Three lorises like me that can lead better lives. And those people will continue to educate others, and soon the message can spread far and wide. But we have to start with one person at a time.

  • JoooBooo, slow loris & Volunteer Mascot

You and What Technology?

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).

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One Eye, moments before her disappearance

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.

Target located.

Target located.

  • Dan Geerah, Volunteer