Hello everyone and welcome to my latest log, and this time thanks to my good friend Matt Ward I am able to bring you a detailed and interesting report on the plight of the Slow Loris which Matt recently spent time helping with highly important, rewarding and at times challenging research into better preserving these fascinating Prosimians.
The Little Fireface Project, Lethal Lorises. ( Written by Matt Ward)
In the face of encroaching human presence, habitat destruction and illegal trade the Javan Slow Loris (nycticebus Javanicus) is ever declining and facing extinction in the wild. This species is very cute and unfortunately for it has been the star of many You Tube videos but it is also a very interesting animal crucial to its environment. A member of the prosimian order of primate’s lorises are a SE Asian family that include several species of Indonesian Slow lorises, Slender loris, Bengal loris and Pygmy slow loris. The slow loris has a varied diet including fruit, leaves, nectar, small insects, gum (sap-not gummy bears), frogs and occasional mammals. One of the aspects that make these animals so special is that this diet may vary widely depending on location and even individual differences. Over observations some animals were seen to feed almost entirely on nectar of the Kaliandre flower where as others would carve out grooves in specific tree species to access high sugar gum. These animals are also very unusual in mammalian circles because they are one of the few Venomous mammals. The venom itself is very strange as it is a combination of compounds that come from a gland secretion on the upper arm mixed with its saliva. Upon this mix the new material is toxic both upon ingestion (poisonous) and through the bite of the individual (venomous). There are several theories as to the reasons for the venom and this one of the major driving points behind the ongoing field study on them in West Java. The study was initiated in joint between Oxford Brookes University and the International Animal Rescue centre in Ciapus, West Java. As the field study is still in progress the details of the methods, field site and results cannot be shared but the project does have a page on Facebook and a field journal blog, http://www.littlefireface.blogspot.co.uk, where updated information on the subjects and progress can be read. The goal of the study is to discover more about the wild behaviour and ecology of this secretive nocturnal primate, it’s a challenging environment and difficult for the observers (believe me, I know), but the data being gathered will further our knowledge of these little known primates and hopefully help us conserve them in the future.
And now a little from myself. I have recently just started my Applied Zoology Honours degree. Being a part time course I now travel up and down on the train on a daily basis. This can be a little inconvenient, however it was a result of one of these journeys I was treated to a wonderful wildlife spectacle. A flock of at least 60 Canadian Geese came into view flying in a wonderful, elegant formation which few others on the train noticed. Us privileged few who did, were treated to a sight I will remember for a long time the sheer beauty of nature.
Finally I have received some very exciting news. My application for placement working with African Wild Dogs has been accepted! this means next August I will be spending two weeks working with one of the rarest carnivores on the planet. This will mean a return for myself to the Kwazulu Natal region of South Africa, and to say I am excited about the prospect is an understatement!
Image taken by Author
Well thats it from me have a good week and the next one will be this time next week, until then all the best George.