American Museum of Natural History's Mary Blair '05 Blogs for NY Times

The New York Times: In Search of Slow Lorises

When I left New York City this morning, it was a rainy, dreary day full of traffic and cars and concrete. What awaits me may be similarly soggy, but the traffic will be in the trees and on the forest floor as I explore the jungles of Vietnam at night.

I am at the beginning of my first expedition to Vietnam as a part of my postdoctoral research for the American Museum of Natural History. This expedition is jointly organized by the museum and the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies at Vietnam National University, Hanoi.

I study primates. And this time, I am searching for the pygmy and Bengal slow lorises.

Slow lorises are small nocturnal primates found in South and Southeast Asia. Little is known about their status or ecology in Vietnam. We do know thepygmy and Bengal species can be found here. We also know they are very hard to find, let alone study. These animals' lives are very cryptic, and their numbers are spread thinly throughout dense, intimidating terrain. But where they can be found, they are hunted. Slow lorises are showing up in local, regional and international trade as pets and for traditional medicine. Their appearance, dead and alive, on the black market is one unfortunate way we know their natural populations are declining. ...

 

Mary E. Blair '05 is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the American Museum of Natural History's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. She majored in biology and anthropology at Swarthmore, and was a member of the varsity softball team. She completed her Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology at Columbia University.