The Conservation and Ecology of the Pygmy Slow Loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) in Eastern Cambodia

Carly Starr (2011). The Conservation and Ecology of the Pygmy Slow Loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) in Eastern Cambodia PhD Thesis, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland.

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Author Carly Starr
Thesis Title The Conservation and Ecology of the Pygmy Slow Loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) in Eastern Cambodia
School, Centre or Institute School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-07
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Luke Leung
Dr Anna Nekaris
Total pages 140
Total colour pages 9
Total black and white pages 131
Language eng
Subjects 060201 Behavioural Ecology
060208 Terrestrial Ecology
060801 Animal Behaviour
050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
Abstract/Summary In Cambodia, the sale of large numbers of dried pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) carcasses has been frequently reported since the 1990s, and recent large-scale deforestation has occurred within its distributional range. It is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, and in Appendix 1 of CITES based on increasing and unsustainable trade, habitat loss and degradation. However, little was known of the ecology, behaviour, and conservation status of this small nocturnal primate; this thesis aimed to determine the ecology and use of the species in Cambodia. The first experiment (Chapter 3) evaluated the effectiveness of three sampling methods in detecting animals at two field sites. Spotlighting with a red filter was found to be an effective method, recording a mean encounter rate of 0.33 animals km-1. No animals were detected in arboreal wire cage traps or on tracking plates. I collected spotlighting data and interview data from local communities to survey the relative abundance, distribution, diet, sociality and habitat preference of the species in three protected areas in eastern Cambodia and found these were consistent between the two data sets (Chapter 4). Importantly, these data indicated recent severe population declines. I radio-collared 10 individuals and conducted focal animal follows across two seasons in 2008 and 2009 to collect ecological data (Chapter 5, 6 and 7). Mean (± SD) home range sizes were 22.23 ± 10.28 ha in adult males (n = 3), 12.08 ± 1.73 ha in adult females (n = 4) and 12.49 ± 2.16 ha in sub-adults (n = 3). Animals primarily slept alone at sleep sites (43/45 observations) located in thick vegetation high in the canopy (mean ±SD) height = 8.45±3.74 m). Adult males displayed a large testes volume (mean (±SD) = 2326.54 ± 132.67 mm3) when compared to other nocturnal primates. Adult males had a larger and more variable home range size and nightly travel distance when compared to adult females, and there was no significant difference in mean body weight (p=0.67), or head-body length (p=0.74) between the sexes. Adult males slept at sites along the perimeter of their home range and rarely returned to the same sleep sites. Adult females usually returned to the same sleep sites, and these sites were located closer to the centre of home ranges. These findings suggest this species may have a promiscuous copulatory pattern. Observations of feeding and analysis of scats indicated a diverse diet, consisting of gums, fruits, arthropods, flower parts, fungi, parts of bamboo culms, reptiles, small mammals, lichen and/or fungi. Radio-tracked animals were consistently active on dark nights (p=0.02). Temperature alone did not have an effect on activity (p=0.81). There was a significant interaction between moonlight and temperature (p=0.04), with animals increasing activity with higher ambient temperatures only on bright nights. This interaction indicated that both predation and heat loss influence activity. Lastly, I conducted interviews and questionnaires to determine the use and users of lorises, and whether access to alternative therapies may reduce the use (Chapter 8). Traditional medicine sellers identified slow lorises (Nycticebus spp.) are the most requested animal product in Phnom Penh (84.68%, 94/111) and the primary user group was women (76%, 38/50) between 25 to 45 years old (92%, 46/50) from middle to upper class backgrounds (84.61%, 55/65). Slow lorises were predominantly used in a tonic for women after childbirth (69%, 77/111), stomach problems (54.1%, 60/111), healing wounds (54.1%, 60/111) and broken bones (53.2%, 59/111), and treating sexually transmitted diseases (16.2%, 18/111). Supplies are sourced from protected areas, and the market price per animal had more than doubled from 1997 to 2007. Respondents expressed reluctance to substitute loris medicines with alternatives. Low encounter rates and reports of large-scale decline (Chapter 4), large spatial requirements (Chapter 5), and the popularity and use of this species in traditional medicines (Chapter 8) indicate that if the current decimation of populations and forests across Eastern Cambodia continues, extinction of these populations is likely. These findings highlight the urgent need for protection of remaining habitats, and education and enhanced law enforcement initiatives to curtail large-scale hunting and sale of this species in Cambodia.
Keyword Slow loris
traditional medicine
home range
Additional Notes Colour: 28, 47-48, 72, 89, 119, 131, 133, 134 Landscape: 70

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Created: Tue, 22 May 2012, 00:33:44 EST by Miss Carly Starr on behalf of Library - Information Access Service