Thirty critically endangered slow lorises return to freedom in the rainforest.
Thirty Javan slow lorises (Nycticebus javanicus) seized by police in Indonesia have been released in the Mount Ciremai National Park in West Java.
The 18 females and 12 males were confiscated in seizures in January 2016, September 2016, October 2016 and January 2017 and have undergone rehabilitation at our Primate Centre in Bogor, West Java – the only rescue and rehabilitation centre for slow lorises in Indonesia.
The release was a joint collaboration by the Agency for Natural Resources and Conservation (BBKSDA) of West Java, International Animal Rescue Indonesia and the National Park office of Mount Ciremai.
A ceremony was held on 11 May to celebrate the release of the Critically Endangered primates, attended by members of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Among them was the Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Bambang Hendroyono, who symbolically released one of the nocturnal primates in the forest of Mount Ciremai.
Bambang has expressed concern about the illegal trade in slow lorises via online social networks and stated: “We are investigating and monitoring the use of social media and are coordinating with different stakeholders to verify the information we are gathering. We are also tracking down the syndicates responsible for the illegal sale of species online and conducting law enforcement operations to end this illegal activity”.
Bambang is also said to be looking at increasing the criminal charges for perpetrators to act as an increased deterrent.
He thanked all parties involved for their efforts to rescue and preserve wildlife like the slow loris, whose numbers are rapidly declining in the wild. He added that he hopes the area of Mount Ciremai National Park can serve as a conservation area and be replenished with the rich biodiversity and wildlife that is native to the area. “Our target in the Mount Ciremai National Park is to rebuild an ecosystem which fulfils important ecological, environmental, and social functions, as well as an ecosystem that can be utilised by local people. I also hope that this activity can be replicated in conservation areas throughout Indonesia,” he concluded.
During the release ceremony, Bambang had the opportunity to simulate transmitter radio tracking and named Mars, a one month old baby that was being released with her mother.
The Head of the Mount Ciremai National Park, Padmo Wiyoso, stressed the importance of restoring this ecosystem to near original condition with various ecosystem restoration efforts, explaining that “The re-establishment of wildlife biodiversity helps to improve the ecological balance of the region. One way to increase biodiversity in ecosystems is by supplementing wild populations – in this case the Javan slow loris species which is threatened with extinction’.
The head of the provinical Agency of Natural Resources and Conservation of West Java, Sustyo Iriyono, said that there is an increased awareness among the people of West Java that protected wildlife should be surrendered to the authorities. Data from the National Agency for Natural Resources and Conservation shows that in 2017 alone there have been 124 recorded cases of protected wildlife being surrendered from the community.
Iriyono stated: “These figures show that the number of protected wild animals being kept in captivity by the community is still quite high. To end this, the Agency for Natural Resources and Conservation carries out effective persuasive actions to increase public awareness, as evidenced by the number of animals that have been voluntarily handed over to the authorities.”
Alan Knight OBE, Chief Executive, said: “Keeping slow lorises as pets is pushing all species of the genus to the brink of extinction as well as causing terrible suffering to individual animals. A suspected 30% of the slow lorises caught from the wild die before they are even sold through stress, dehydration and injuries. The work of our team rehabilitating slow lorises is alleviating the suffering of animals rescued from this cruel trade and, as in this instance, restoring these shy, nocturnal primates to their rightful home in the rainforest.