2nd Virginia McKenna Award

Slow Loris Champion Wins 2nd Virginia McKenna Award for Compassionate Conservation

We are delighted to announce that Professor Anna Nekaris of Oxford Brookes University and the Little Fireface Project(www.nocturama.org) has been awarded the 2nd Virginia McKenna Award for Compassionate Conservation.

Prof. Nekaris was selected to receive the award for her work in exposing the cruel and destructive trade in slow lorises as pets in South East Asia, and for raising awareness of the plight of these secretive and fascinating animals through academia, the media and field work.

The Little Fireface Project (LFP) began officially in December 2011, building on work carried out by the Nocturnal Primate Research Group at Oxford Brookes since 1993. In response to a burgeoning demand for illegally traded wild slow lorises as pets, fuelled by YouTube videos, LFP launched a formal programme to halt this trade. The Project initiated the first long-term field study of Javan slow lorises, providing vital data to rescue centres to improve success of reintroduction of ex-pet trade victims. It provides training materials and workshops on taxonomy, helping to reduce reintroduction of non-native loris species; conducts market surveys and reports illegal loris sales to authorities; operates a community-based conservation project in Garut, with conservation education and training schemes for trackers, enforcement officers and students; provides alternative incomes to villagers producing loris handicrafts; and actively uses social media to promote its activities, resulting in the removal of the ‘notorious’ Tickling Slow Loris video from wired.com in 2012.

Virginia McKenna OBE, founder of the Born Free Foundation, who met with Prof. Nekaris in Oxford to present the Award, said “I am so delighted that Anna has won this award. I think her work has brought international attention to this little-understood species and her commitment to the individuals she encounters is exactly what Compassionate Conservation is all about.”

The award, sponsored by the Born Free Foundation, is intended to provide support and recognition for researchers, practitioners, organisations and projects that promote and develop the consideration of animal welfare in conservation practice.

Prof. Nekaris intends to use the Award funding to produce an information book in Bahasa Indonesia to educate and empower local people to save slow lorises.

The Born Free Foundation has, at its heart, the interface between animal welfare and conservation, and is keen to promote its agenda of Compassionate Conservation, where the welfare of individual animals is a central consideration in conservation actions.