Little Fireface Project
To study the ecology and raise awareness of slow lorises in Indonesia
The pet trade has been cited as a key threat to the decline of all lorises. The species noted as hardest hit is the Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus), which has twice been included on Conservation International's biennial list of the ‘World's 25 Most Endangered Primates" in 2008 and 2010. Long-term data of loris trade, rescue and rehabilitation from Java reveal its impact. Cutting of teeth by traders, inability of reintroduced animals to survive in the wild and lack of enforcement of animal protection laws were clarified as key threats, and are representative of the region in general.
Slow lorises are an evolutionary distinct group of primates found from north-eastern India to the Philippines. Their vice-like grip, slow metabolism, snake-like movements, shy nature and, most remarkably, their venomous bite make them unique amongst the primates. They also are to many people undeniably adorable and to others nature's answer to over 100 diseases, which they are believed to cure. Thus, the slow movements that make scientists want to study these primates also make them easy prey to expert hunters who literally denude the forests of these shy primates – amongst the most common mammals seen in Asia's pet and medicinal markets, but amongst the rarest spotted even in Asia's best protected forests.
The Little Fireface Project, named so after the Sundanese word for loris, aims to save these primates from extinction through learning more about their ecology and using this information to educate local people and law enforcement officers, leading ultimately to empowerment and empathy whereby people in countries where lorises exist will want to save them for themselves. This is done through education, media, workshops and connecting classrooms programmes. Our education does not stop in range countries, but also reaches out to potential western purchasers of loris pets.
WAZA Conservation Project 12008 is implemented by Dr Anna Nekaris (Oxford Brookes University), with support provided by Bristol Zoo, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Cleveland Zoo and Brookfield Zoo as well as the EAZA Prosimian TAG. Other stakeholders involved in the project include the Leverhulme Trust and Primate Action Fund of Conservation International.
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