Largely solitary, nocturnal, venomous and pint-sized, slow lorises are strong contenders for the primates that least resemble humans. Which may be why they are among the least studied, least protected and most poorly understood primates, according to Anna Nekaris, professor of primate conservation and biological anthropology at Oxford Brookes University. “Out of over 600 primate species, we have five great apes, and everybody wants to study them,” she says. While the plight of orangutans and gorillas has been well publicised, all nine species of slow loris, spread across southern and south-east Asia, are quietly decreasing in number and slipping down the IUCN red list. Philippine, Kayan and Bornean slow lorises are classed as vulnerable; Pygmy, Bengal, Sumatran and Sunda slow lorises are endangered; while Bangkas and Javans are critically endangered. Nekaris (pictured) has been devoted to lorises (there are slender lorises in India and Sri Lanka, too) since 1994, and is on a mission to help them through her research and conservation organisation Little Fireface Project. Spearheading these efforts is a field programme in Java, Indonesia, where she is directing the first long-term study of lorises in the wild. “It took about four years before the [local] farmers started taking… Read full this story
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