BBC documentary Jungle Gremlins of Java features IAR's primate rescue centre in Indonesia
An upcoming BBC documentary exposing the plight of the world’s only venomous primate was made using the facilities and expertise of IAR’s team in Indonesia.
Jungle Gremlins of Java, to be broadcast on 25 January, highlights the threats to the survival of the endangered slow loris, a small, shy primate that is highly prized as a pet in Indonesia. International Animal Rescue runs the only specialised rehabilitation centre for slow lorises in Indonesia: it was at this facility on the island of Java that much of the filming for the programme took place, using lorises rescued by IAR’s team.
With their huge brown eyes and soft fur, slow lorises have become a victim of their own cute appeal. After clips of a captive slow loris being tickled were posted on YouTube, the little primate became an overnight sensation with millions of people around the world clamouring to own one.
Although both Indonesian and international laws prohibit the trade in slow lorises, they are poached from the wild in their thousands and illegally sold in animal markets in Indonesia or smuggled to booming markets in Japan and Russia. More than half are likely to die in transit. Those that end up in the markets suffer terrible stress from being dumped in cramped cages in full sunlight – a far cry from their natural environment in the rainforest.
To prevent them from using their venomous bite, traders cut off the lorises’ teeth using nail clippers. This ghastly mutilation causes terrible infections, often leading to a slow and painful death. Others are brutally killed for use in traditional Chinese medicine.
International Animal Rescue’s team in Indonesia is currently caring for more than 100 slow lorises that have been received from confiscations or voluntarily surrendered by private owners. The aim is eventually to return as many of them as possible to the wild, but first research is being carried out into what factors determine the success of their rehabilitation and long term survival in the wild.
IAR Chief Executive Alan Knight OBE says: “Jungle Gremlins of Java” is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the plight of the slow loris which is one of the most endangered primates in the world. I hope it will discourage people from owning them as pets and encourage them to support our work to save them. Slow lorises may look cute and cuddly, but they are not toys or domestic pets, they are wild animals and entirely unsuited to life in captivity. Without our centre, there would be nowhere to house animals confiscated from the markets and no prospect of ever returning them to the wild.
“The documentary shows the terrible suffering caused by the illegal trade in wildlife in Indonesia and the scenes in the animal market should be enough to deter anyone from supporting it in any way.”