Hearing the Silence


My make shift microphone boom eavesdropping on some mother/infant bonding time.

Communication is an important aspect of a primate’s life – it allows social maintenance and formation of new relationships, and lorises are no exception. If you spend as many hours with lorises as we do here at LFP, you would be aware that occasionally these little cryptic primates make audible vocalisations, mainly heard during fights when domestic issues need to be settled. These rare vocals however, are only a small fraction of the vocal repertoire produced by lorises. It was back in 1981 when the first ultrasonic vocalisation was recorded from a slow loris, but little research has since been done into this aspect of loris ecology. The main reason for this information gap is the limitation of technology. Back in the 80s, a researcher would have elaborate equipment connected to more elaborate equipment which then gave a hint at what frequency the noise was leaving the individuals mouth. Now I can head up into the forest, holding a note pad and a box not much bigger than a GameBoy Color that will record all the frequencies out of our hearing range.

My research is looking into behavioural contexts of the ultrasonic vocalisations used by our loris population. I want to know what calls they are making and why they are making them. I know what you are thinking- how can understanding an inaudible noise help our conservation efforts towards this endangered species? The simple answer is knowledge. Gaining knowledge of any part of an animal’s ecology and behaviour is hugely important to its conservation as it will provide a whole new way to reference the health of a population. The goal is to create a catalogue of calls characteristic to wild populations that can be used as an indicator of population health in other wild and rescue centre lorises. For wild populations, the ultrasonic monitoring may indicate stress levels in populations within fragmented forests while in reintroduction centres ultrasonic monitoring may identify highly aggressive calls between two newly introduced individuals, preventing avoidable injury or fatalities to this Critically Endangered species.


A hammock makes a long night shift a whole lot comfier.

Like all research, it is going to take time. With over 100 hours of recordings already sifted through, I have only managed to catch a handful of calls, including mother Shirley calling out to her new-born baby during a forage. Listening through an ultrasonic set of ears is a fascinating way explore the forest, especially during the dark of night, where a whole lot of unseen eyes are watching you…

  • Dan Geerah, LFP Volunteer

Little Lorises


Education was pretty new to me when I arrived at LFP. I had given a few talks but never interacted with a group on a regular basis, especially a group of children! So I was excited to start running our weekly Nature Club.

The group we work with range in age from 4 – 10 so the level of understanding varies greatly within the class and the activities that interest them vary greatly as well. Some kids love to draw, the boys never seem to tire of seeing me juggle, almost all love the conservation-related games we play at the end of each session and every one of them loves to get stickers! But aside from the fun, there is a genuine interest in learning about the natural environment.

A few weeks ago I was watching as one of our volunteers handed out paper and pencils for some drawing. Most of the children were looking for their favourite colouring pencils and sharpening them to a lethal point. But I noticed one of the girls sit apart for a minute to write the vocabulary we had discussed in her notebook before starting to draw. This was totally of her own initiative and illustrated to me how much she wanted to learn. And she is not the only one, the drawings andcomments from the kids show such originality and thought that I harbour secret hopes that we have a number of budding conservationists and biologists in our midst.


For example last week when we taught the kids about some new animals and asked them which were their favourites, I expected a lot of the same answers, but most children chose different animals and almost everyone chose different reasons.

Little things like this keep me attuned to how important nature education is for children. A love for the natural environment can be imprinted at any stage in life but there is a certain type of passion that I believe can only be sparked at a young age and I find it a privilege to get to be a part of this for these kids.

  • Dan Bergin, Field Station Coordinator

Research Roundup: Do you know where you’re going?

Since getting to the West Java I have been working with the wonderful LFP team to measure mental map use in slow lorises. While this may seem like a difficult thing to measure, it is great fun to do and we have a poor understanding of slow loris spatial cognition. Having followed the Javan slow lorises here for the past 3+ years we have learned so much about their feeding, sleeping, and social habits. This knowledge has made it easy for me to find resources and locations that individual lorises will frequent each night. Using these locations I can map their route and determine if they are efficiently traveling through the agroforest they live in, perhaps by means of their mental map of the area?!?

One of my favorite and by far the cutest revisited location is a parked infant. A few of our focal lorises have been seen with an extra set of tiny red eyes with them. Slow lorises are among the animals who park their babies while they leave to secure needed resources. For my research this was a clear choice for revisited locations, and who wouldn’t want to sit and wait by baby lorises.

stephBy taking GPS points every 15 minutes as we track the mother’s movements through the forest, I can later map out her route back to those little red eyes, which are waiting in a nearby tree. During our 6-hour observation shifts, I have noticed that mothers frequently return to their babies between bouts of catching insects and gouging the local gum trees.

To get a sense of how the males and females without babies navigate the forest, I have also followed individuals to their favorite gum tree (Jiengjen) especially now during the dry season. When consuming gum, lorises must first gouge sizable holes into the trunk and branches of a tree, and in time the tree produces a gum to repair these holes.  Slow lorises love to eat this gum, making these trees yet another great option as a revisited location.

Once I have recorded as many slow loris routes as possible, I will look at each one to determine how long and how efficiently individuals travel to a specific point. Though I am still just collecting data, I get the impression that slow lorises do in fact have a plan and know just where they are and where they are going. I’ll have to wait to see what the data tells me in the end, but I am excited to learn more about slow loris spatial cognition and even more excited to share what I find.

– Stephanie Poindexter, PhD student

Waking up happy

12077365_10153695245112628_1853732710_nFor a month now, the West Javan village of Cipaganti has been what I call home. With Cipaganti situated on the side of a mountain, trapped between paddy fields and a bamboo jungle, the aesthetics are simply incredible. The visual beauty of this place, however, isn’t its one and only quality. Since I arrived, I have been overwhelmed with the sense of community that litters this village. Everywhere you walk, someone will be there to greet you, ‘Hello Mister! How are you?’, and these greetings will even be fired at you when you are whizzing past them at 20mph on an Ojek (motorbike).

Rumah Hijau provides a popular drawing club every Tuesday afternoon where a number of the younger members of the village come and prove their artistic skills. It’s a great time for me to learn some basic Indonesian and the children to get involved with the project. Currently the children only seem interested in drawing houses surrounded by mountains, however I have made it my aim to try and add some zoological flare to their art. While on the subject of art, I was fortunate to have a little wonder to Amank’s house, the gent responsible for all the LFP woodwork, and had a little tour of his carpentry studio (when I say studio, it was in actual fact just a section of his living room). He has an incredible talent, and I am planning to place a little order in the near future.

12092145_10153695245187628_717868490_nThe mosque grounds provide not only an arena for the relentless praying from dawn until dusk, but it also plays host to the daily barefoot ‘playground rules’ football matches, of which I am more than keen to participate in when possible. My footballing career took a step up from the ‘playground rules’ last Friday where I donned a Cipaganti FC shirt and secured a second half goal for the Men’s B team. The England flag that I provided was flying high for the duration of my performance thanks to some enthusiastic locals.

The rural life may be the polar opposite from the Cardiff city life I’m used to, but waking up each morning to these views and these people, I know I’m going to be a very content man for the next 8 months.

  • Dan Geerah, volunteer at LFP

SLOW 2015: Thank you!

Logos SLOW copy

It’s been another highly successful year for Slow Loris Outreach Week (S.L.O.W.)! Over the last week, over a dozen organisations and even more people have put in extra effort to show the world why the slow loris is so special – and why it needs to be protected. From social media to fundraising, it was an action-packed week and we’d like to say a very warm thank you from everyone at LFP to those that helped spread the loris love!

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The children at Nature Club in Java wish everyone a very happy S.L.O.W.!

Here in Java we worked hard to get the loris better known among the local people. We organised the Loris Love Festival earlier in August, and Tereh joined us in Garut to give out flyers and stickers! The children in Nature Club worked hard on loris-related crafts, and we took Forest Protector to a new school, where some of the children had never even heard of a loris! Lastly, the team shared their experiences on working with lorises and, once again, showed their dedication and hard work for these amazing animals.


Dierenpark Amersfoort gave away goodies for the best finish to the sentence: “I don’t want the loris to go extinct, because…”

Things were pretty busy in Europe, too! Prof Anna and her UK team, including Tereh, went all over London and Oxford to promote the loris. Anna gave a talk to an intrigued crowd at the Oxfordshire Mammal Group, whereas Lush kindly allowed us to raise funds at the opening of their new store, which was a great evening and very successful! In the Netherlands, Dierenpark Amersfoort shared the loris love by organising competitions, giving away “zookeeper days” and loris-related goodies.

Social media is a powerful tool, and we once again were reminded of this during SLOW. We organised a photo competition and spread extra loris love via Facebook, Twitter, and our brand new Instagram. Other organisations showed their support via social media, too. Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, Dierenpark Amersfoort, Asociación Primatológica Española, Peppermint Narwhal Creative, Primate Society of Great Britain, and Shaldon Wildlife Trust all advertised S.L.O.W. on their websites and social media. This has increased our reach tremendously!


These cute plushies have already gone on sale in Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and will be available in Europe soon!

Lastly, many of these organisations also helped us raise extra funds for the project. These funds are incredibly important for us to be able to do our work and keep the lorises wild and free. So a last very big thank you to Dierenpark Amersfoort, Lush, Adventurelogue, Disney Conservation Fund, Healing Lotus Designs, and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for their support.

We hope you enjoyed S.L.O.W. 2015 and will join us again in 2016. Until then, follow us on Instagram (@littlefireface) for unique insights into our Javan life, and stay tuned on Facebook!

Living the SLOW life


Top left to right: Dan Geerah, Stephanie Poindexter, Robert O’Hagan. Bottom left to right: Faye Vogely, Rhea Mahsa.

Living in a small village on the side of a mountain to look at a cryptic nocturnal primate is not your everyday kind of job. For most people the lack of running water, overload of insects, or living with your co-workers would be a definite “no” when looking for a job. So how come the green house on the mountain is always home to a group of dedicated people?

Everyone has their own reasons. “I don’t think lorises get enough credit. That’s why I like studying their cognition and how intelligent they are. They don’t get enough attention in research,” says PhD student Stephanie. She’s doing research into the cognitive abilities of lorises and how they find their way through the forest. Volunteer Dan says: “I think why the slow loris is so cool, and why I looked into them, is because of their venom.” This is echoed by our newest addition to the team, Rhea: “At first I didn’t really know they had the venom to protect themselves. It’s really interesting. [At LFP] it’s about research and conservation for an endangered animal.”

This is also one of the main reasons we’re here: the Javan slow loris Nycticebus javanicus is Critically Endangered. As numbers are dwindling, the situation can sometimes seem bleak. “[Lorises] are one of the few animals that are hit with everything. They’re hit so hard with deforestation, they’re hit with traditional medicine, they’re hit with the pet-trade, local taboos […] and their use of photo-props. They’re really hard done by […] and they need that extra little bit of attention or help,” Research Coordinator Robert says. The illegal trade in lorises is detrimental to wild populations. Individuals that have gone into the pet trade can rarely be returned to the wild. When travelling through Indonesia, it is not uncommon to come across lorises being sold on the markets. Robert recalls seeing lorises in a market in Jakarta: “When you see them in the wild, and you see how gentle and weird and awesome they are, then it all hits home when you see them in markets […] with their teeth pulled out. You don’t have to be a conservationist, or a biologist, to know that that’s wrong.”

But despite all the troubles that face the loris, the team is optimistic and dedicated. Working with LFP requires an open and creative approach to solve a complex issue. “When you work with this project, […] you get to tackle the issue from all angles. And that’s what makes it very interesting,” says Robert. Not only do we conduct vital research into the biology of the slow loris, we also work together with the community and provide education. “We’re integrating everything here. We’re learning so much [about lorises] every month, and we’re sharing that knowledge. That’s very important to me,” says Public Relations officer Faye. Education is a  key component of our project. Dan agrees, saying: “No matter what you’re trying to do, you need to work with the people to get them to understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”

So despite being biologists, conservationists, or whichever label you see fit, it is not just about the animals. It is also about the people, especially the team itself. “It’s a very special thing […] to work with people that are so passionate,” says Robert. “There is a sense of camaraderie; you’re all in it together. And it’s the kind of attitude I think the whole world should foster.”

So join us in our camaraderie this SLOW: see how you can help the slow loris by clicking on this link.

SLOW 2015 – How can you help save the slow loris?

Today Monday the 14th of September marks the launch of our 4th annual Slow Loris Outreach Week (SLOW – slender lorises of course can join us too!!). I have studied lorises since the early 1990s, and at that time, very few people in western countries had ever heard of a loris. In their native ranges, slow lorises were already known for a variety of reasons, be them romantic, mystical, or tragic. For example, seeing or hearing a loris can bring you luck – good or bad; lorises are believed by some to wait at the gates of the afterlife; these strong slow animals are also believed to cure over 100 diseases, leading to their near extinction in some Asian countries. For more than 20 years, slow lorises in particular have been seen in the pet trade throughout Asia, causing increasing destruction to their wild numbers. It was in 2009, however, that this trade got global awareness when a video of an illegally smuggled and cruelly kept pygmy slow loris went viral, bringing the possibility of having this internationally protected species as a pet to millions all over the world.

Throughout this time, the Little Fireface Project and its Director Prof Anna Nekaris have been doing all they can to learn about these animals. From the very basics, to how many species are there and where do they occur in the wild, to the simple aspects – what do they eat? what are their families like? – to the complex – why are slow lorises the only venomous primates? We also have been publishing scientific findings to show exactly why the lorises seen in YouTube videos are illegal to own or inhumanely treated, and also provide our data and recommendations to zoos and rescue centres all around the world, so they can keep these animals well in captivity. Indeed, many of these organisations kindly fund our vital work.


But what can you do?? Here are ten steps you can do to help save the slow loris!

1. Leave one comment a day on a loris pet video kindly requesting that the uploader remove it, and explaining why the trade is illegal and cruel.

2. FLAG one video a day as animal cruelty – although now some sites allow this option, we have yet to see a single loris video removed by the likes of Facebook or YouTube. In fact, only conservation material has been taken down when it was copyright of a company like BBC, even if only a few seconds were used to help save the slow loris!!!

3. Spread the awareness: download our Facebook headers, our outreach images for Instagram, tweet about lorises; if you are a teacher in any context – even a yoga or a cooking class – take 30 seconds to spread the word to your audience. Buy a t-shirt with the conservation message and wear it and answer questions to anyone who asks!

4. This week, try to raise £10 for loris conservation! This can be a car boot sale, selling unwanted items on Ebay, bake sale, proceeds from a yoga class, charity car wash, run a marathon for loris conservation – the list goes on! If 1000 people were able to raise £10, we could run slow loris field projects for an entire year!

5. Donate via our Oxford Brookes slow loris fund, by adopting a slow loris or purchasing beautiful hand made products from our Etsy shop.

6. Visit your local zoo and see a slow loris for yourself, and ask the zoo to do something special for their lorises this week. Even more, if you work in the zoo, use this week to emphasise the importance of slow loris conservation.

7. Be creative – make a counter YouTube video, showing why slow lorises are not pets, draw a slow loris comic or colouring page that we can use with children in loris range countries, help us with new t-shirt designs to increase awareness!

8. Write to the ambassador of a loris range country that you visited and express your distaste for the illegal wildlife trade of all species.

9. Choose your products wisely, especially those that contain oil palm, as this is a major threat for slow lorises and indeed many other species of wildlife.

10. Volunteer for Little Fireface Project at our field site in Java or write to us with any skill you can offer to help!

EFP Congress LFP talks


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.




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.


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.