Individual Research Review Article:Exploring Cultural Drivers for Wildlife Trade via an Ethnoprimatological Approach: ACase Study of Slender and Slow Lorises (Loris and Nycticebus) in South and SoutheastAsia In this article the authors (Nekaris et al.)question the way that conservation ispracticed through the field of ethnoprimatology. Their main topic of study is looking atwhich primates (a focus in lorises) are found being illegally sold in markets across SouthEast Asia. In order to gain information on the lorises in the market, one must look at howthe primates’ origins, the price of the animal (dead or alive), the people usage of them.Nekaris et al.criticize how those who practice in light only of conservation andknowledge were not keeping the primate traders in mind, jeopardizing their livelihoods.Nekaris et al. propose that there needs to be a “satisfactory system for ethicallyquantifying the anthropological elements that drive primate trade,” ( 878, Nekaris et al.).Through this work the authors try to examine ethical practices to establish anunderstanding of the relationship between humans and non-human primates as a naturalresource a cultural figure. The theme of human and environmental relations are discussedfrom an ethical, economic, and cultural standpoint. One of the things done well in the article was mentioning the they read reviewsand literature that needed to analyzed before going out in the field and go into detail ofthe data collection. Using anthropological methods, they were able to use participantobservation to gain stories and record beliefs that the communities held about the lorises.They make a point of the importance in being involved in the interests in all aspects ofthe trade to help the researcher understand the trade from an emic perspective. It wasproposed that this would allow for greater rapport between the communities and theanthropologist, which would create better data, in turn allowing for stronger steps to be
taken for conservation. The results were laid out clearly, allowing the readers follow. They noted whichprimates were being targeted, where they were being sold to, and for what purpose. Thediscussion section linked pieces of the research together to come up with significantconclusions: 1. the trade is perpetuated by the use of lorises for medicinal purposes due tothe lack of knowledge, poverty, lack of infrastructure and access to modern medicine, 2.belief systems are so deep set, they are inhibiting the alteration towards a more scientificconservation of resources. The authors use maps to show where the studies were done; achart of the species-specific international trade;and a chart showing which species werebeing traded in which specific regions, and whether they were dead or alive. This kind ofdata compilation combined which the ethnographic accounts of the attitudes of the peopletowards the lorises contributed to comprehensive study. The researchers have laid out thesteps they took so that anyone with experience in primatology and ethnography couldreplicate the project. If I were to expand upon this research I would focus on the historyof natural resource use in these areas, government influences on the trade, and wouldhave work more closely with people who are actually capturing the primates. Although there have been other studies done on the trade of animals in South EastAsia ([Stich and Kruger, 2002], [Malone et al., 2002; Shepherd et al., 2005], andthroughout Asia [Schulze & Groves, 2004]),Nekaris et alpresents a unique casedocumenting the cultural accounts with the trade. They also take into account thatlooking at this cannot be done from just the community specific level; it needs to beintegrated into the global context as well. To conclude their work, Nekaris et al. stated that “learning the local language,
building rapport with traders, and spending long periods at each locality along the supplychain allowed us to uncover the ultimate causes of trade,” (884 Nekaris et al.) Theirmethods of collecting data in working with the community through completeparticipation observation allowed them to gauge the needs of the people and how theycan be contributed in an environmental context for conservation. Their methods ofintimate participation using ethical practices serve not only the environment and thepeople who live on the land. Their practice should be used as framework for conductingand presenting research in anthropology.Citation: Nekaris, K.A.I.; Shepherd, C.R.; Starr, C.R; andNijman, V. 2010. Exploring Cultural Drivers for Wildlife Trade via an EthnoprimatologicalApproach : A Case Study of Slender and Slow Lorises (Loris and Nycticebus) in South and Southeast Asia. American Journal of Primatology.