Bridge over troubled forests: how Java’s slow lorises are creeping back

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A pioneering project uses water pipes suspended in the trees to allow the endangered primates to gather food in safety

Photographs by Andrew Walmsley

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.

A Javan slow loris seen foraging in the canopy

The main threat to the slow loris is habitat loss. Java is the most populous island in the world

When tracking lorises, Nekaris and her team use a red-filtered torch to avoid disturbing the animals. In the image below, a loris is fitted with a tracking device

Water-pipe bridges allow lorises to reach previously inaccessible feeding trees

Related: Counting the species: how DNA barcoding is rewriting the book of life

An added benefit of using water pipes for slow loris bridges is that farmers have a vested interest in maintaining them

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