A Long and Winding Road

Meet Forrest

Meet Forrest. The only type of loris you should even think about owning.

It began in early April. Drunkenly ranting about animals as usual, a friend asked if I’d fancy a half-marathon.  I’d like to say that it was a handshake right there that tied me in like my tattoo and South America, but I instead gave it some headache infused thought the next day. The answer was a ‘yes.’

Having that week seen Jungle Gremlins of Java, my inebriated babble wasn’t of red pandas or lemurs for a change, but slow lorises. I was aware already aware of them and even tried finding wild ones myself in Southeast Asia last year, but I hadn’t known how big a fight they face. I’m not ashamed to say I shed some tears when watching the market scenes.

Slow lorises do face a unique threat. Like many other species they are hunted for traditional medicines and their habitats are being torn apart, but few other creatures also face the wrath of the internet. At a glance, over twenty million people have viewed Youtube’s videos of them being kept as household pets.

I can’t add much on the subject which hasn’t been mentioned elsewhere. What I can do though, is help in raising awareness whilst all donations will go directly to Dr Anna Nekaris of the Little Fireface Project, and on to Indonesia. Still having five months to go, with a little assistance I can hopefully achieve a lot.

My initial training efforts consisted of Marlboro tasting cardiovascular warmups, followed by twenty minute whinges around the streets of Dartford, then a consolatory cigarette on return. I needed help. Progress has been slow, but smoking is hopefully now a thing of the past and nine minutes per mile is no problem. I’ve even found out that a gait analysis has nothing to do with fences, doors or farms.

Although I cautiously signed up for the two hour plus bracket, I’ll be aiming to go under the hundred and twenty minute mark. Either way, it’s a good thing that Amazon and eBay don’t stock slow loris costumes. Should you know of any and their whereabouts, then please leave me in blissful ignorance as I probably would get drunk and order one.

Instead, I will proudly be donning a Little Fireface Project T-shirt whilst the thought of our furry little friends will help me kick on from my current maximum of four miles. Trebling that and then some is going to be a long and difficult road, but I’ll be content in the knowledge that I’ll be helping to save the slow loris one stride at a time.

Cry of the Slow Loris

Confiscated Pygmy Lorises in Thailand

Cute. Cuddly. Fluffy. Adorable. Wild. These are all words which describe Southeast Asia’s most peculiar primate, the slow loris. Compared to their distant relatives but neighbours such as orang-utans and macaques, lorises have clambered under the public radar. That is until recently. With the advent of the internet and Youtube, these particular prosimians are now known to millions worldwide.

Lorises are difficult enough keep in zoos. Relatively little is known about the species, whilst they fall into the somewhat unique category of venomous mammals. Secreting oil from their arms, this is mixed with saliva to create a potentially deadly cocktail when biting. Therefore when illegally captured from the wild, the first port of call is to remove their teeth. This is performed mercilessly with appliances such as wire cutters or pliers, often leaving the wound to become infected and resulting in a slow, painful death.

Meanwhile in the cyber world, videos of lorises as pets are becoming ever increasingly popular. Shown being tickled, holding umbrellas or taken on car rides, the scenes appear innocent. In turn, comments are left about how great a pet they must be, plus the inevitable inquiries as to where they can be purchased. Behind that though, is a world of suffering. For each one sent from a wildlife market and then across Asia, America or Europe, they are replaced. More are plucked from the jungle, more mothers are separated from their young, and more die for nothing.

With their habitat also being destroyed and the continued poaching of them for bush meat and supposed medicinal purposes, one of the planet’s most loveable animals is facing the very real threat of extinction. Despite a worldwide ban on the trade of the slow loris, we need to act and to educate, before its fate is sealed. Can you help?