Saving the slow loris
The slow loris in Indonesia is under serious threat of extinction as a result of habitat loss and the illegal trade for pets and for traditional medicine. The Javan slow loris is included in the category of ‘endangered’ species on the IUCN Red List and named as one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world.
About the slow loris:
The slow loris is a small nocturnal primate: its Latin name Nycticebus means ‘night monkey.’ Slow lorises sleep all day and become active at night when they hunt for food.
They measure between 240 and 380 mm in length and typically weigh less than 2 kg. Lorises have low reproductive rates, usually giving birth to single offspring after a long gestation period and with long intervals in between. They have a lifespan of up to 20 years.
Slow lorises are omnivorous: their diet includes fruit, tree sap and small animals such as lizards, insects, birds and bird eggs. They move stealthily towards live prey but, once within striking range, they pounce quickly and efficiently.
To protect itself the slow loris often covers its head with both arms. This position allows the loris to take in the toxin produced by a gland on its elbow. With this toxin, the slow loris bite can cause swelling, fever and pain and can be deadly for humans who suffer allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock. Slow lorises are the only toxic primates in the world.
Threats to the survival of the slow loris:
The illegal wildlife trade is believed to be an even bigger threat to the slow loris’s survival than habitat loss. Their huge brown eyes and soft fur make these small timid creatures immensely popular as pets.
Thousands of slow lorises are poached from the wild and illegally sold as pets or for use in traditional medicine. Domestic and international trade takes place in various ways, from open selling of slow lorises on roadsides to smuggling them in poorly ventilated, overcrowded cages. In Indonesia slow lorises are sold on the street or in traditional animal markets, as well as in city malls. Although both Indonesian and international laws ban the trade in slow lorises, the illegal wildlife trade is flourishing.
These shy little animals suffer terrible stress in the animal markets where they are dumped in small cramped cages and exposed to broad daylight and baking heat. Their teeth are often cut off with nail clippers to protect the handler from the loris’s toxic bite. This painful mutilation causes terrible infections, often leading to a slow and painful death. Many slow lorises die before they have been sold.
What we are doing to help:
International Animal Rescue has established a facility specialising in the care of slow lorises in Ciapus, West Java. The centre and its rescued lorises feature prominently in the BBC Natural World documentary, Jungle Gremlins of Java (25 January 2012 BBC 2). The centre also featured in the BBC Indian Ocean series with Simon Reeve (3 June 2012 BBC 2).
The team is currently caring for nearly 100 slow lorises that have been surrendered by their owners or confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade. Here the animals undergo treatment, rehabilitation and socialisation in preparation for release back into the wild. However, many of the lorises have had their teeth cut out and therefore may no longer be able to fend for themselves. We are working with veterinary dental specialists to determine whether their teeth can be repaired or replaced.
A number of slow lorises with their teeth intact have been released into the wild and are being closely monitored using radio collars. Working closely with universities and scientists, research into successful rehabilitation and reintroduction programmes for slow lorises is ongoing at the centre. Our education officer also goes into schools to give talks to local children about the danger that slow lorises could be driven to extinction.
Sponsor a slow loris:
Cepat (“Speedy”) the Sumatran slow loris, was kept as a pet in Java. His rescue by IAR’s team in Indonesia was seen on the BBC’s Jungle Gremlins of Java documentary (BBC 2, 25 January 2012). Cepat’s owner kept him in a cage and fed him on cake. His teeth were cut off to prevent him from biting so now he will never be able to fend for himself in the wild.
Please help us care for Cepat and give him the life he deserves – and the next best thing to a life in the wild: a nutritious diet, a natural environment where he can behave like a slow loris – and protection from further persecution.
What else you can do to help:
- Never keep a slow loris or any other primate as a pet.
- Watch and share Tickling slow loris - the truth
- Support the work of International Animal Rescue so that we can continue to save slow lorises and campaign for an end to the illegal trade.
- Become an animal advocate and spread the word about the tragic plight of the slow loris as widely as possible via the social networks and by word of mouth.
- Sign our petition asking YouTube to remove videos of captive slow lorises.
- Protect slow loris habitat from the spread of palm oil plantations by asking your supermarkets only to use palm oil from sustainable forests.
- The Slow Loris in Indonesia: The Rise in Illegal Wildlife Trade - Proceedings of the Seminar on Slow Loris Conservation, Bogor-Indonesia, December 2010
- Javan Slow Loris - K. Anna I. Nekaris, Karmele Llano Sanchez, James S.Thorn, Indah Winarti & Vincent Nijman, Indonesia, 2008
- The Slow Loris: A Protected Primate - ProWildlife Germany & Dr. K. Anna Nekaris,Oxford Brookes University
» IAR tackles terrible suffering of primates in Indonesian pet markets
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» BBC2 Natural World: Jungle Gremlins of Java
» BBC2 Indian Ocean: Indonesia to Australia