This week, the Little Fireface Project is hosting Slow Loris Pride Days in Cipaganti, West Java, Indonesia. They are organizing school visits, a kite flying contest, children's parade, adult football tournament, and an official closing ceremony with traditional music. Slow loris conservation is the underlying focus of events.
As PEN’s Regional Coordinator for Sulawesi and Java in Indonesia (and in honor of Slow Loris Pride Days), I would like to introduce you to a special primate conservation initiative, the Little Fireface Project. This project focuses on a lesser known, not to say less important, primate called the slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus).
Little Fireface Project (LFP) is named after the Sundanese word for loris. Their aim is to conserve the slow loris through the exploration of their ecology and behaviour. They use this information to educate local people and law enforcement officers. By empowering local communities, their hope is to inspire them to become slow loris conservation ambassadors. LFP’s education focus extends not only to loris range countries, but also to western nations. Their goal is to end the illegal pet trade of this endangered species.
I recently took the train to Bandung to visit my friends at LFP. Their field station, set amongst picturesque surroundings, is based in Cipaganti on the Indonesian island of Java. Though difficult to reach, it was definitely worth the visit. When I arrived, I was warmly welcomed by Johanna Rode, LFP’s Ph.D. candidate, and Julia Hill, LFP’s Field Station Coordinator and Conservation Education Manager. Johanna established the project’s field station in February 2012. Whilst pursuing her Ph.D., Johanna gained the support and trust of the local community through education and outreach activities. During my visit, Johanna, Julia, and I sat and discussed “PEN business,” sipping from our cups of tea at the foot of a stunning mountain. Following our discussion, I was invited to join a tracker to observe the mysterious and nocturnal slow loris in the evening.
My first glimpse of a loris in the wild was a female named Tereh. This captivating little creature, named after her speed, gazed from her bamboo thicket over the agricultural fields. Tracker Aconk hastily recorded data on the loris’ location and behaviour, and then Tereh, living up to this name, disappeared into the thick bamboo. Soon after, we were caught in a tropical rainstorm, much to the delight of passing frogs and toads. Drained yet cheery about our special encounter with Tereh, we began our journey back down the mountain.
Fortunately, our encounters were not finished for the night! Tracker Aconk, using his excellent night vision and amazing flashlight, spotted another Kukang (local name for slow loris). This individual, up in a tree feeding on fruits, was hitherto unknown to trackers. Although large parts of the mountain have been deforested for agriculture, sightings like this fill me with hope for the slow loris and are a testament to their amazing capacity to adapt to the environment.
This blog post was written by Thirza Loffeld, Primate Education Network’s Regional Coordinator for Sulawesi and Java, Indonesia. She also serves as Selamatkan Yaki's Field Education and Advocacy Coordinator.