Slow lorises are under threat for many reasons. They are targeted for the illegal pet trade because they look so appealing; their forest habitat is being degraded and cut down; and they also face a multitude of threats as a consequence of an ever-changing climate. We are working with the Little Fireface Project to combat this decline. They are engaged in active fieldwork and on social media to help curb the current craze for slow lorises as pets, photo props and traditional medicines.
In this blog post Helene Birot gives us an insight into the world of slow loris research.
Guiding by the antenna and receiver, we search for the frequency of our focal and we follow the sound of the signal. It is 17:45, we finally locate Tereh, her signal is very strong in one of her favourite deep bamboo patch sleep site. And our old lady is not by herself, she is sleeping with her young infant Tyrion and her juvenile Tzatziki. Alomah, her mate, and Tombol, her subadult are sleeping together in another bamboo patch. What an exciting information to start our follow.
We look for a good place to see the lorises, and we wait until they wake up. It is 18:00, the sun disappeared already and hand over to the moon. Our cute family is still sleeping. Patiently waiting, while drinking a coffee, we collect data on their sleep site and take the first GPS point of their sleeping position. It is start to get cold, we put on our first jumper. It is 18:15, the night already very dark, and finally the family start to wake up, one pair of eye-shine shows up, it is Alomah, another one just opens its eyes, it is Tombol.
Alomah starts to move around his sleep site, closely followed by Tombol. It is time to be clean, the father and the daughter are grooming each other. Still no sign of Tereh and her two-last offspring. It is 18:30, Alomah and Tombol have moved already far away from the sleep site of Tereh. And one…two…oh no three pair of eye-shines appears in the sleep site. Tereh’s awake. We can start to collect behavioural data on her and collect weather data each five minutes.
Newly awake, Tereh is patiently waiting while Tyrion and Tzatziki are playing together. She slowly graps sometime an unfortunate insect that flies near her hands. It is 19:05, Tereh finally decide to leave her sleep site to explore her home range. She is closely followed by Tzatziki; the teenager still needs to learn a lot form his mother. Tyrion, too small to move around by himself is parked in the deep sleep site. His activities are still a mystery for us, but we know that he waits patiently the return of his mother at 05:00 to be huddled and fall asleep for the day.
The Night’s Activities
It is 19:30 and Tereh carries out her nightly journey to explore her territory and search for delicious meal. She finally stops in a Jiengjen tree and gouges the bark to find fresh gum. Tzatziki watches her with attention and inspects the holes that his mother is making with her teeth. Luckily, she left some gum behind her. Tzatiki licks it and understands that it is the best technique to find gum, thanks mummy! It is 20:05, Tzatziki stays 30m away from Tereh, only two small balls of fires can be seen through the canopy.
Tereh climbs up and down Kayu putih trees, searching for unlucky crickets. Climbing down trees, she realises that they are not connected anymore, but she wants to go in another Jiengjen tree. She has no choice left, she has to walk trough a Chayote plantation. Suspensory walking between Chayote leaves, she grabs sometimes insects and keeps walking until her final destination.
The temperature decreased, we put on our second jumper. It is 21:15, and Tereh finally leaves the Jiengjen tree she was feeding on for an hour. She enters in a bamboo patch and we can only observe her eye-shine appearing and disappearing between the leaves. We sit and patiently wait for her. The weather deteriorates and the fog falls down. We put on hat, gloves and our last jumper. It is 21:30 and we have lost Tereh. Following the signal, we are looking for her between Kayu putih and Afrika trees. It is 22:00, the fog finally dispersed. We put on our jacket, we are freezing! Tereh is on a Kayu putih tree and is grooming Tzatziki. It is 22: 35, Tereh is resting at the top of an Avocado tree, Tztaziki left her after receiving some attention.
It is 23:15, Tereh is still inactive in the Avocado, no sign of the rest of her family. The second shift has just arrived. We give them the necessary equipment, and show them Tereh’s location. We are finished our night of observation, it is 23:25 and we cautiously climb down the path to go home!