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Ten Javan slow lorises are poised to return to freedom

Ten rescued Javan slow lorises that have received treatment and care at a primate rehabilitation centre in Bogor, West Java are poised for release back into their natural habitat.

At the end of November they were moved from our Primate Centre at the foot of Mount Salak in Bogor to a habituation enclosure in the forest of Mount Sawal Wildlife Sanctuary in Ciamis, Jawa Barat.

The habituation enclosure is an area of natural habitat surrounded by high netting. Within it are various types of trees that provide the lorises with food and shade. The lorises will remain there for between two to four weeks to give them time to adapt to their new environment.

During the period of habituation, our monitoring team will continue to observe and record the behaviour of the nocturnal primates every night. If, during the period of habituation all the lorises are active and don’t display any behavioural abnormalities, then they will be deemed ready for final release into the forest.

The slow lorises consist of seven females and three males. Purbo Priambada, one of our veterinarians in Indonesia, said: "The majority of the lorises came from the Jawa Barat region and were passed on to us for rehabilitation by the BKSDA (Centre for Natural Resources) in Jawa Barat. One confiscation took place in Majalengka at the beginning of 2019. Now the lorises are in good condition and ready to return to the wild after receiving treatment and recovering fully.

The steps to restore the lorises’ natural behaviour begin with quarantine and medical examinations to ensure that they do not have any diseases. Behavioural observation is undertaken and natural food is introduced in preparation for the lorises’ return to the wild.

When they arrive at the rehabilitation centre, the condition of the lorises is often quite alarming, Purbo added. They are usually traumatised and stressed and poor nutrition has sometimes caused behavioural changes because the lorises haven’t been receiving an adequate diet.

Robithotul Huda, Programme Manager in Indonesia, said slow lorises are often sold as pets. As a result, a lot of lorises die in vain because of the cruel treatment and mutilation they suffer before they are sold.

Huda added that returning a slow loris to the wild is much harder than capturing it. It requires effort and a huge cost to prepare lorises for their return to their natural habitat. The process and the stages that they must go through are relatively long and must conform to strict standard operating procedures.

Then there are also the processes to go through at the release site, both in the habituation cage and when the lorises are finally released.

"Post-release monitoring lasts for a minimum of six months. The monitoring process involves a radio-transmitter device. Slow lorises have radio-collars attached to them to transmit signals to radio-receivers. These tools help the team monitoring the lorises to know their whereabouts and monitor their progress in adapting to the wild."

Andi Witria Rudianto, Head of Sector KSDA Region III BBKSDA Jawa Barat, explained that the programme of loris protection and conservation in the Jawa Barat region is a collaboration between the BBKSDA Jawa Barat with our team in Indonesia.

"The programme is becoming one of the key efforts to support the sustainability of the ecology in the area, as well as maintain and increase the population of endemic primate species," he said.

Andi continued by saying that the conservation area has an ecosystem that is considered suitable as a place of preservation and protection for slow lorises in West Java. This has been shown by the results of a survey carried out by our team and the BBKSDA West Java. It revealed that the area is good in terms of the security of the region, the availability of food and shade, the capacity of the habitat as well as the low level of threat from predators.

"So we are all looking forward to this release. The lorises can flourish and reproduce. In addition, the programme doesn’t just involve teams from IAR and the BBKSDA, we also involve the local community in the surrounding area in every part of the process of conserving the lorises, starting from translocation to monitoring. This involvement is also vital so that they can protect the slow lorises in their habitat from threats," he concluded.