New Petition – Warnings added to Loris Videos

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A new petition has been launched urging YouTube to add a warning to slow loris videos. Our research has shown that although slow loris videos are pretty horrific, we at the very least can keep track of trade, and also many people learn about lorises’ plight. At the same time, sadly 1 in 10 people leaving comments still want one as a pet. If YouTube at the very least made every loris video have a warning and conservation message about lorises, perhaps this would add to the POSITIVE impact of these otherwise horrific videos.

We do urge you to sign here – we don’t think YouTube will ever remove these money making videos, but maybe they would put a warning?

Slow Loris Petition to Remove Illegal YouTube Videos

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Shortly the Little Fireface Project will begin in earnest our campaign to (at the very least) understand WHY YouTube will not remove videos of illegal wild animals kept as pets. Having at our disposal petitions with 5000 signatures will be a great help. Several months ago International Animal Rescue set up a petition requesting YouTube to remove these videos; this link has been reposted and supported by the Little Fireface Project and other groups like BornFree Foundation, yet despite 100s of emails to us personally about people’s disgust of the illegal trade, the petition still has failed to reach 5000 signatures. Let’s make August the month that it does! Please click here and sign. Repost the following picture too to your Facebook page or blog.

Lorises, tigers and bears –Oh my!

by Grace Fuller
Lately my work with lorises in Java has led me to spend a lot of time with the other residents of Cikananga Wildlife Center. One of the possible functions of slow loris venom is to repel predators, and I have been testing this hypothesis by observing behavioural reactions of potential loris predators to samples of venom collected from the Little Firefaces. So far, I have conducted tests with Malayan sun bears, orangutans, and three species of eagles: Javan hawk eagles, changeable hawk eagles, and crested serpent eagles. There are confirmed cases of orangutans and changeable hawk eagles predating on slow lorises in the literature, so the lorises have reason to be wary of these species!

saliva-collection-bears
To conduct these tests, I offer a sample of the venom with a piece of food, which ensures that the predator is motivated to explore the test item. For the bears, this means wrapping a venom sample collected on a tissue around a piece of rambutan (a tasty local fruit) and sealing it with a drop of honey. In the future, I will be testing Javan leopards and other felid species at Cikananga, and I am hoping to venture outside the rescue center to conduct further tests with other potential predators including tigers, civets, and snakes. I have also been working with the sun bears to collect saliva samples (see photo) which I plan to use to measure hormones to determine if the loris venom elicits a stress response in the bears. Stay tuned for what I hope will be some interesting results!

Why do lorises produce toxic compound

One of the most interesting facts about the slow loris is that it is the only venomous primate. Slow lorises produce a toxic compound from their brachial glands (a patch of bare skin from their inside elbow up to their armpits), which they lick to combine with their saliva and “activate” the venom. The reason why slow lorises are venomous is still somewhat of an unsolved mystery.

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As part of my postdoctoral research with the Little Fireface Project, I am exploring some of the hypotheses for why slow lorises produce such toxic compounds. Is it to ward off ectoparasites, tiny bugs that live in their fur and potentially could transmit diseases to them? Is it to deter predators of the night, including owls, hawks, and eagles? Could the venom serve multiple purposes?

In order to answer these questions, myself and LFP volunteer Anna Zango have been conducting two separate phases of research. First, we have been conducting a series of experiments testing the responses of various insects to the venom of slow lorises, using a combination of saliva and brachial gland secretions. Second, we have been playing the sounds of predators to the lorises as they forage at night, to see if they have any interesting behaviors that might be related to using their venom. We have to carefully study their reactions, and some of the lorises actually move quite fast! Good thing Anna has such sharp eyes!

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This project has been incredibly interesting. I never imagined to see such specific responses. So far, the data suggest that slow lorises are a lot more complicated, unique, and special than many people realize. So, I am really excited to continue this research exploring how slow lorises use venom as an adaptation.

Loris Predator Reaction

This week with Nanda Grow I have started an amazing new project that seeks to discover the reaction of lorises when a predator is near. In order carry it out Nanda has recorded the sounds of different predators, including owls, eagles and orang-utans, and we are going to compare the behaviour of lorises before and after playing these sounds. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Then let me explain how our first trial went! After an intense and successful capture night, we had some extra time and we opportunely found an uncollared loris. So Aconk, Nanda and I decided to carry out the first experiment. The loris was calmly foraging in a tree, but once we played the recording of an eagle call, he quickly went down the tree and moved to an area covered with lots branches: he was being more cryptic! As we couldn’t see him very well, we don’t know if there was any venom-response. Let’s see if the next time we are luckier! Don’t worry, I will keep you updated!

Entering the lorises world for the first time

For me seeing an animal in its natural habitat is always a privilege but working with nocturnal animals is rather extraordinary. It is like entering a secret world. I know it is quite common to be afraid of what might lurk in the night, but I am fascinated by the creatures that have evolved to live their lives in the darkness, while we sleep.

Navigating the maze of farmers’ fields in the dark with nothing but a red light to guide you is a very surreal experience. You lose your sense of balance at first, especially as the mountain side (or volcano side) where our lorises live is very steep and can be very muddy after heavy rainfall.

As you may know we track our lorises with antennae that would not look out of place on top of your house. The local people must think we are crazy as we walk through the village at dusk with all our tracking gear. The antenna admits a bleeping sound which grows stronger as you near the collared animal.

Once we have found our lorises we sit, avoiding crushing the farmers crops, and observe its behaviour. I find it odd carrying out research amongst a carrot field as I am used to working in a forest. I watch with mixed emotions as it is somewhat sad to see them living in such a depleted habitat. It is like they are making their last stand, in the few remaining trees surrounding the fields. Yet it is encouraging that they are adapting to surviving out here. We have already seen some amazing adaptive behaviours, which will be revealed soon…

Believe it or not slow lorises are actually pretty fast and sometimes we can’t keep up with them as they search the night for insects and tasty kaliandra flowers. Most nights at the moment it rains very heavily and we have to take refuge in one of the kind farmer’s huts. Sometimes you can even feel the volcano rumbling or smell the sulphur as it reminds us that it is very much active.

In Indonesia you never know what is round the corner, so I look forward to the next few months out here :-)

 

Tara

 

Our Village

 

IMG_6989I come from Melbourne, a vibrant and eclectic city in Southern Australia. Melbourne is known for its world standard shopping, glorious cafes and food … oh the food!

Now I am based at what seems like a world away in a little village on the side of Mt. Papandayan, an active volcano in West Java, Little Fireface Project’s home base.

Cipaganti StoreAlthough there are no fancy clothes stores, restaurants or chic cafes, I am pleased to say that this means  there is not a  fast food outlet, 7 Eleven, Tesco or Costco in sight.  I don’t miss any of these conveniences; in fact not having these large and somewhat ugly stores in the village is part of the local charm.

Our shops are all run by local people and you can find one in just about every ‘block’.  At a glance they look small, but they are like Dr. Who’s tardis; they always seem to have exactly what you need tucked away somewhere. Coffee, washing powder, sugar, garlic, environmentally friendly light globes … Tidak Apa-Apa (No Problem)!

Cipaganti Garden NurseryThese are just some of the local stores that we visit on a regular basis. Some are mobile and visit the children’s schools, others stay put. The colourful products hanging from the windows and walls contain everything from coffee, to crisps, to vitamins.

CipagantiCharming aren’t they?

 

Sharon

Education in Java

Blog nature club Anna:

In Cipaganti every week on Friday the Nature Club takes place, an after-school program that seeks to promote consciousness and love of nature in children of any age through many different activities. This week, with the help of Denise, Tara and I, loris puzzles were designed! The puzzles have images of lorises and questions about them, so once the puzzle is completed the children have to answer the questions right: so they can have fun and learn at the same time!

As the children that came to nature club are different ages they were divided in three groups according their age and different puzzles were assigned to them. Sometimes the puzzle was a challenge even for the volunteers and Pak Dendi! But finally, with a lot of enthusiasm and a bit of effort, all the puzzles were solved and the questions about lorises were answered.

Afterwards, the children spent some time coloring images of animals and learning the names of them in English, as Tara and I learnt them in Indonesian! Finally, before leaving, Pak Dendi read aloud a story about animals which all children enjoyed a lot. It was about a monkey with a blue bum!

Now I just have to wait to enjoy the next Nature Club session with these enthusiastic and motivated children!

Forest Protector sessions Tara

The forest protector pack is part of the Little Fireface’s education project. It incorporates a beautifully illustrated children’s book, a matching activity pack and memory game. During my first few weeks at the project I have visited 4 schools with the rest of the team. Two of the schools are in our local area and have nearly finished the program which lasts for around 2.5 months. Each week the children have an activity to complete, which is led by us and a teacher or one of our trackers. The sessions I aided with involved making slow loris (or kukang in Indonesian) face masks, origami and question games. The children seem to really enjoy the lessons and remembered the English words we taught them.

The other two schools were far away in Tasik and we did the introductory sessions which involved a talk about our project and the slow loris and competitions for batik loris bandanas and stickers. After the session our loris mascots came in which the children loved. One of the schools was a high school with a group of 300 kids. The other was a primary school with a group of 40 kids. As these schools are far away the teachers are given teacher packs with instructions and carry out the program themselves.

At the start of the program the children are asked to write a short story about the kukang and draw a picture, the majority of the kids did not know very much about lorises and only wrote a few sentences and we had a range of drawings from insects to turtles. At the end of the program the children are asked to repeat this task, it was really encouraging as the children wrote at least a paragraph and knew a lot about lorises. It would be interesting to revisit the classes in the future to see if they still remembered the lessons.

Awareness, Awareness, Awareness!!!!

Awareness is one of the most important aspects of our work in Java. Awareness can lead to change and thus by giving talks at schools, offices, to people on the street we can help secure a safer and better future for the Javan slow loris.

It has been busy, busy, busy in Java spreading the loris love this past week. We were kindly invited to one of our local Kacamatan’s to host a movie day. A Kacamatan is the head office of an area. It is thus the office in which all the village chiefs have meetings to discuss relevant to a region as a whole. We hosted the movie day in front of all the village chiefs within one of our survey areas. It was a very important day for the project. To be able to present our work in front of so many important people was quite nerve wracking! The head of the police was even there!

It started off really well and everyone was quite engrossed in what our head tracker Pak Dendi was saying. However, as a result of a morning full of meetings, the group grew smaller and smaller as time went by. Thankfully, those that stayed were the ones that seemed to be truly interested asking multiple questions not only about the loris, but also about the education work we do in the area.

The day ended in an invitation to come and teach at a local pre-school by the head of the womens association. What a great contact to have!!!

The week ended with more social events as we had a team trip to Tasik Malaya. Tasik Malaya is about 3 hours away from our field station and in different regency. They also speak Sunda and are still located in West Java. Wawan Tarniwan, an Indonesian photographer that has worked very closely with LFP from the start and a native to Tasik arranged for us to give talks at two schools. The three hour trip meant that we had to leave the house at 5am. We packed the car with 7 team members, two life-sized mascots, giveaways and a driver. It was a quite a trip down bumpy roads but when we arrived at the elementary school to give our first talk the children were ecstatic.

The teachers opened up the classroom to connect it to another one. That meant that not only did we have a class of 45 students of level 4, we also had an additional 50 plus onlookers join the session from levels 5 and 6! The room was jam-packed!

Pak Dendi asked the children questions about the loris and they were able to win little prizes. The session ended by reading out the Forest Protector book with mascots Tereh and Bunga acting out the scenes and being a bit silly thanks to Pak Adin- which was met with squeals of laughter! We left books, activity packs, memory cards, stickers and a teacher’s pack with the teacher of class 4. We’ll be heading back to Tasik in a few months to evaluate the success of the book pack. We are all very excited to see the children again!

At 11am we moved on to give a session at a high school. Pak Dendi gave a presentation covering everything from loris distribution to market surveys and education. We had over 200 students in the room, all of which seemed genuinely interested. Most had never heard of a “kukang”, the Indonesian name of a slow loris, but all wanted photos by the end of the team and with our lovely mascots.

It was a long day but we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Pak Dendi’s voice was a lot softer by the end of it, and everyone was quite tired but at the same time it was very invigorating to have been part of.

Tasik awareness

The Loris in Lore, Literature and Legacy: Conservation play for Asian lorises

MASC (Monkeys Acting in Schools for Conservation) and the Little Fire Face Project are collaborating to create a new piece of educational theatre. We are putting together a piece that will give audiences a chance to get to know lorises, through the eyes of different people over history. From the tribal beliefs about these mysterious night-time primates to the views of collectors for zoos and plantation owners. These vignettes will weave in and out of each other to introduce the audience to these beautiful primates. Using hand-carved Javan puppets for the first time we hope to explain the diverse eractions to lorises over time including fear, respect, tenderness and love. This piece is to compliment the campaign that Litle Fire Face Project is running to try to make people aware of lorises and the illegal pet trade in this endangered species.

Come see the debut of this piece at Oxford Brookes Outburst Festival at the Pegasus Theatre, Magdalen Road Oxford on Saturday May 10th from 3-4pm.

PUPPET CARVINGS BY AMANK

Table Top Sales in Bradford Raise Funds for Slow Loris!

Thanks SO much to Vicky Luker and her family and friends who raised enough funds for LFP to support the purchase of vital LFP field equipment.

Car boot and table top sales seem to have become increasingly popular these days in my home city, Bradford.  Recently, my husband and I took the plunge and set up a stall at a table top sale at a local church.  We made £50 for The Little Fireface Project, and decided to run another stall a couple of weeks later, where we made £35.  We also printed off information leaflets about the plight of the lorises, and what people can do to help them.  We gave out almost a hundred leaflets over both events.

Family, friends and neighbours donated bric a brac to sell, and my sister made cakes and scones, as well as donating plants.  She attends a sewing class, and even made shopping bags and cushions for the stall.  Her husband donated some motorcycle boots, which turned out to be worth so much money that we removed them from the stall and have put them on EBay to get a better price for them.  Friends and family have also come along to the events, bought items and made cash donations, and my dad has paid for the hire of the tables.

What we were not prepared for was the level of interest and concern shown by members of the public when we explained about the plight of the lorises.  Let’s face it, Bradford is a long way from Indonesia!  Why would anybody care?  But despite everything else going on in the world, and despite having troubles of their own, my fellow citizens have taken leaflets and engaged in conversations about the lorises.  Many bought items from the stall and told me to “keep the change”.  Generally speaking, most of the people we have met care about animals, no matter how far away they are.

Bradford is not a wealthy city.  It is predominantly working class and used to be the centre of the global wool trade (just ask my dad!).  The city has a proud history of welcoming people from all over the world, from the German wool ‘barons’ of Victorian times, to Europeans fleeing Nazi Germany, to people from Pakistan and India who came to work in the mills after the second world war.  We host the National Media Museum, we are the first UNESCO City of Film, and the Brontes were born here.  Over ninety languages are spoken in Bradford, but one word has been added to the local dictionary – Loris!  These little creatures have a small army of defenders growing in the most unlikely of places, a city often the victim of bad press and prejudice, but which has a heart of gold when someone, or something, needs help. – VL

Below is the text from fliers that Vicky made available at her table

YOU CAN HELP SAVE A SPECIES!

Lorises are shy primates that live in the rainforest.  They are unique because they use a venomous bite to catch their prey, BUT THEY POSE NO THREAT TO HUMANS.  They are critically endangered due to habitat destruction and because they are illegally caught and sold as pets. 

THE LORISES NEED EVERY FRIEND THEY CAN GET!!  PLEASE DON’T LET YET ANOTHER SPECIES DISAPPEAR…

  • Please visit http://www.nocturama.org to see the work of The Little Fireface Project, based in Oxford.  They are fighting to save the lorises.
  • Please sign their petition / make a donation
  • Please tell your family and friends about the lorises!!

THANK YOU!!

 

Loris venom investigated

Slow lorises are unique amongst primates in being the only group of venomous primates. Though special in this way, much research remains to be done to understand the role of venom in the ecology of the slow loris. Why are they venomous? Prof. Nekaris recently proposed a series of hypotheses as to the venom function of the slow loris:

1. Anti-predator behaviour
2. Defense against eco-parasites (parasites living on the skin/fur)
3. Communication between slow loris individuals
4. To help in catching prey

How do lorises catch insects and what role does their venom play?

These amongst other venom related questions are being answered by new team member and post doc Grace Fuller. Grace has joined the LFP team in January studying the role of loris venom on the captive slow lorises housed at Cikananga Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Grace is performing experiments in which she presents the lorises with a range of different insects of various sizes and toxicity and records the lorises reaction. She looks at how they catch the insects, how long it takes them to catch the insect, as well as what types of behaviours occur before and after catching an insect. For example does the loris start grooming once it has caught the insect prey?

All of these interesting experiments will help us to understand why lorises are venomous and aid in reintroduction of ex-trade lorises to the wild.

Many slow lorises are found in Asia’s illegal wildlife markets. Their teeth are regularly removed to make them “safe” to keep as pets. Removal of the teeth also removes the ability to use their venom. These individuals can not be returned to the wild, even if saved from the horrible trade markets. They spend the rest of their lives cared for by wonderful staff at Asia’s rescue centres. Those, however, that have fortunately been spared the cruel pulling of their teeth with nail clippers can potentially be reintroduced. The work done by Grace and the LFP team is vital to understand what these lorises need for reintroductions to be successful!