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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

IAR tackles terrible suffering of primates in indonesian pet markets

Slow loris held in a tiny wire cage at the marketIAR is tackling the issue of cruelty inflicted on wildlife sold in Indonesian pet markets - some of which are highly endangered species.

IAR has just completed the construction of a rescue centre on the island of Java for primates that have been caught from the wild and sold as pets. The aim is to rehabilitate animals like slow lorises and macaque monkeys and release them back into safe areas in the wild.

During a trip to Indonesia in November the charity’s investigators took shocking photos at an animal market in Jakarta. The images show a terrified slow loris having its teeth cut down with nail clippers to prevent it from biting the trader. This brutal practice is common among wildlife dealers in Indonesia before selling lorises in markets or at the roadside, and many of them die from the trauma or from septicaemia within days of capture. Five slow lorises were found in tiny rusting cages behind the scenes at the market. Naturally shy and nocturnal, the little animals were visibly suffering in the bright sunlight and the extreme heat.

Distressed slow loris about to have its teeth cutIAR CEO Alan Knight OBE who took the photos said: "These beautiful animals should have been sleeping in the trees of the Sumatran jungle. Instead, they were in a completely alien environment and screaming in agony as their teeth were cut down before our very eyes.

"It was all I could do not to step in there and then to help them. But I knew that, if we are to have an impact on the trade in primates as a whole and encourage the government to crack down on it, I had to take the pictures and raise awareness of the suffering of these poor creatures."

The slow loris was upgraded from Appendix II to Appendix I at the meeting in June this year of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. While species listed on Appendix II may be commercially traded, species on Appendix I are afforded the greatest legal protection and may not be traded for primarily commercial purposes. However, in spite of the legislation, slow lorises are frequently smuggled from Sumatra by wildlife dealers and sold in their hundreds in the pet markets in Jakarta. Their big round eyes and soft fur make them hugely appealing as pets, and hundreds pass through the Indonesian animal markets every year.

Slow loris having its teeth painfully cut down with nail clippersIAR’s patron, comedian and musician Bill Bailey, is a frequent visitor to Indonesia and plans to visit the new rescue centre in the New Year. Speaking of IAR’s campaign to end the trade in slow lorises, he said: "Just like the dancing bears in India, the trade in slow lorises is illegal and IAR has the backing of the Indonesian government in trying to stamp it out. The islands of Indonesia are full of weird and wonderful wildlife, but no one in their right mind wants to see it caged in a pet market or touted for sale at the side of the road."