Dao Tien Updates October 2015
Rescuers confiscated Teo, a young male gabriellae (golden-cheeked) gibbon, from a house in Bien Hoa City in 2009.
Teo developed severe rickets with a twist of his rib cage. The damage was irreversible but with extra supplements and pain relief he has gained fitness and found his own way to manage. When he first arrived he would sit on a red blanket like a dog. Teo had to learn how to swing - initially like a spider - and then as he gained fitness and agility he began to brachiate. He now travels with a happy combination.
Teo had spent all his caged life with Uh, a young female gibbon, and they arrived at Dao Tien together. Uh is feisty and although Teo liked her he was always careful around her. She, however, was fit and on track for release and we didn't want to hold her back – so the decision was made to split them to give Uh a chance.
Teo was then placed with another kind female, Hoa, but he, slowly, became very frightened. so we tried the dating game once more. This time we placed him alongside a third female, Ellie. Ellie is one of our most attractive females and amazing in the trees but at five years she developed a curved spine. Veterinarians Dr. John Lewis and Dr. Uli Streicher have monitored her condition and there is little we can do for her so, sadly, she is off the release program. We hoped she and Teo would pair for life and be cared for with extra attention as their conditions progress.
Well, all our staff now have large smiles when you mention Ellie and Teo. They are the most beautiful pair. Ellie is protective of her new man and shows her affection by gentle grooming for hours every day, which Teo reciprocates. We have never seen Teo do this before.
A few months ago we transferred the pair to our small semi-free with tourist viewing. Ellie loves the trees and an active life bobbing around in the branches will help keep her body fit and mobile.
Visitors to Dao Tien can watch them gently swing in the trees and listen to the pair sing. Teo can tell his tale of how magnificent gibbons are, and what goes wrong if you take them from the tree canopy where they belong and keep them in a two-metre square cage with a tin roof, which keeps out the sun!
Since December 2014 we have had a constant flow of pygmy loris confiscated from the illegal trade.
They have been confiscated from tourist attractions in Dalat City, from being kept as pets locally and in Ho Chi Minh City and from being taken to market in the buffer zone of Cat Tien.
Some arrived in very poor condition after years of being kept in small cages. Two had tiny babies and one baby (Taite) had lost her mother- eaten by the hunters. Infants cannot be released to the forest on their own - our data show that individuals need to be mature at over two years to survive. So we had the dilemma of how best to keep Taite, maintaining her wild behaviours so she would still be fit for release.
Just with the day to day care Taite was craving attention and started to run to the keepers for insects. Although signs of a healthy young loris, these are also signs of an individual that will not retain behavioural fitness for release. First we introduced insect feeding devices made out of bamboo to help keep her busy while we worked out a plan. Then we moved Taite next to a single wild female we had recently rescued, Olive.
Olive has one eye and a cauliflower ear but is otherwise just perfect. She behaves and moves like a wild pygmy loris. Could she be a surrogate mum for Taite and teach her how to be a loris? We know gibbons make excellent surrogate mums but had no experience with pygmy loris. From day Olive and Taite slept together, touching at the mesh.
After one month we introduced them. The slide was opened in the evening and Taite instantly ran into Olive’s cage. Olive was asleep up high in a rattan tunnel. Taite busied herself eating insects and fruit, quietly making her way towards Olive. Eventually she got brave and sat behind Olive, gently touching her. After five minutes there was still no movement from Olive, so Taite ran round to the tunnel entrance and approach her from the front. Taite scuttled along the tunnel and must have woken Olive from a deep sleep for she immediately ran out of the tunnel. Taite pretended to busy herself with insects once more. Another five minutes passed before Taite boldly approached Olive again, sitting next to her. Soon after, Olive started to move her head and then, after a rush of movement, both were vigorously licking each other - quite roughly but happily. From that moment on Taite has had a step mum, who watches out for her and curls up with her for sleeps.
Although, Olive is ready to go back to the wild, we will hold her back for 12 months to help Taite, so, hopefully, both loris have an excellent chance of survival when released back to the forest. Once our new loris area is complete these two will be transferred to a quiet treed enclosure until ready for release.
Two “bengalensis (Nycticebus bengalenisis)” loris arrived on Dao Tien. How long had they been in captivity? We do not know. They had both worn wire collars fastened to the cage door so they could not move.
Sadly one was very sick – dehydration and shock - and did not recover. But the other female, Di Di, responded well to care, though still not eating well. Concerned, our head keeper, Mr Ngoan,stayed during the nights to monitor her, One night he gathered small lizards that were running around - and offered “Di Di” one. She ate the lizard immediately, and she has never looked back.
Di Di had been confiscated by the Vietnamese Forestry on the border of Cambodia and Vietnam, her origin as not yet known. Three months on from her rescue this adolescent has gained good weight - now just over 500g - and her beautiful silvery white bengalensis markings are coming through.
We have worked with loris now since 2009, every year radio collaring and releasing pygmy loris.
The Workshop, in August 2015, was to gather all leaders of forested areas from the South of Vietnam, Government and Awareness networks to discuss what is known, share knowledge and develop a plan for the future. The aim is to ensure these species do not become extinct in the near future.
The enthusiasm for the meeting from Vietnamese delegates was excellent. Let’s hope we can improve our conservation effort by working together. Already work is starting on establishing training of primate care staff from other National Parks and, hopefully, of Government staff.
Dao Tien Updates May 2015
Primate Rescue and Care
Pygmy Loris at their Best! By Vicky Ogilvie
Uli (pygmy loris) was released last December, with Mr Khang checking on her daily sleep spots using radio signals. After two weeks to settle in it was my turn to join the tracking team and start collecting more detailed behavioural data of our little lady. Half an hour before darkness sets in, we settle ourselves close by her sleep spot and wait. Upon her waking, the first hour of visuals is just terrific. She's a very healthy, active pygmy loris, who seemed to know straight from the beginning how to move easily and swiftly through the bamboo and trees. She doesn't hang around, giving us tantalizing glimpses of foraging and activity before moving easily on and disappearing from sight. She is confident, comfortable in her territory, and appears to be one content little loris. An added bonus to monitoring Uli is that when we are quietly waiting for her night to begin, a troop of black - shanked doucs come to rest and end their day above us. Nature at its best.
Now nearly six months post-release - the battery in Uli’s collar is soon going to fade- thus we will gently recapture Uli to replace her collar- allowing us to follow her for at least up to one year post-release to truly assess if she has returned to a full wild life - and starts a new family of her own.
Vicky and Khang ready for a night in the forest
Over the last months we have been receiving more confiscated pygmy loris, some directly from the trade and others from established tourist attractions, which now have been closed down. It is so great that the Vietnamese authorities are getting stronger in enforcing the law. It is our job now to rehabilitate and return healthy candidates back to the forest and create high welfare long-term homes for the ones not fit for release.
The particular challenge we face is the rehabilitation of orphaned infants- keeping them fit for release when mature at two years. The young orphaned pygmy loris below was rescued in April, mum believed to have been eaten by the hunters. She is settling in well and loving her night time feeds of insects.
Research and Education Awareness
The next few months will be very exciting with several students collecting data for their Masters studies.
One study will be helping prepare rescued golden-cheeked gibbons from the illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam, for return to the wild - by assessing the benefits of using automated dog feeders. This allows gibbons during rehabilitation to feed frequently high up in the trees- without the need for humans. Reducing the link of humans to food is key to their rehabilitation. A second student arrived just as seven confiscated pygmy loris arrived - perfect timing. Assessing behaviour at rescue, looking at the influence of cage size, neighbours and behaviours over time.
Trang checking out the feeder for the first time
Cat Loc survey of wild golden-cheeked gibbons and pygmy loris
From December 2014 to March 2015 Binh, Hai and Ryan Keers (Keeper from Monkey World) led a team to re-survey the northern section of Cat Tien National Park. The area was split in 16 grids, and the surveyors spent four days in each grid; listening for gibbon groups in the morning, and with red lights looking for loris at night.Gibbons were found throughout the area, in similar densities found in 2005. The night surveys encountered loris at low levels and direct loris hunting observed. This was terrible to find but on a positive perspective it has provided clear evidence of a problem that can now be addressed.
Linking School children from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Assam, Vietnam and Taiwan as they discover with whom they share their School grounds. Comparing similar and different species found across the globe, some found in abundance while others very rare or absent.
Results from near dustbins and close to the school find cats, dogs, crows and chickens. Over the next month the children move the cameras to a wild site to see if any native wild life can be found.
A. Children in Taiwan walking like a gorilla, B. Mr Dat discussing local and International wildlife, C. a wild dog on the School grounds in Vietnam., D. Children in the United Kingdom setting up their camera trap, E. Crows checking out the camera in the UK
Sponsorship scheme up and running!
Thank you to all the supporters who have sponsored our pygmy loris and gibbons. Not only as it directly helped the primates but it’s allowed local people to visit Dao Tien and understand more clearly our work. The final stage is a livelihood support gift (a sapling to grow and later harvest). Just waiting for the rains in May to come now! If you would also like to sponsor please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Pygmy Loris Conservation Workshop - 1st & 2nd August 2015 in Cat Tien National Park.
EAST is organising a two day workshop in order to provide a platform to discuss pygmy loris conservation in South Vietnam; from wild surveys, protection (problems or successes they have encountered), law enforcement and on the second day, captive care, release protocols and options for individuals not fit for release. We hope to achieve a relaxed atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable to share their knowledge.
The Vietnamese artist Van Hoang Dao has kindly agreed to create a loris conservation logo and design unique merchandise for our loris conservation project, which we hope to sell internationally.
Thank you to all our followers, sponsors and people who travel to Vietnam to see us. I hope you enjoy hearing about our work and please feel free to contact our team if you ever wish to hear a little more.
The EAST Team