Slow Loris Investigations
One of the main threats to loris populations in Indonesia, forcing their numbers in the wild to decline rapidly is the rampant illegal pet trade. Though lorises are protected under national and international laws (CITES, Appendix I) and listed as Critically Endangered (Javan lorises) and Vulnerable (Sumatran and Bornean lorises) under the IUCN Red list, lorises still remain to be traded in large numbers, an estimated 1,698 lorises are hunted from the wild for the trade (based on local bird markets and online trade monitoring data, YIARI, 2017).
In 2011, we established a multi-disciplinary team designed to tackle the illegal trade in slow lorises. A multi-dimensional approach was implemented to understand trade networks focusing on profiling pet owners, physical markets and online trade monitoring, identifying hunting hotspots and profiling hunters, awareness and education activities targeting different social demographics involved in the trade, and finally increasing the capacity of law enforcement and government officials. Since then, we have set up a strong network of investigators in South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and West and Central Java and strengthened relationships with local government and law enforcement bodies and the police force in these provinces.
We have witnessed several successes in law enforcement operations undertaken, of which the major ones resulted in prosecutions of perpetrators and a large number of lorises confiscated. From 2013 to 2016, we conducted law enforcement activities in West Java, Sumatra and West Kalimantan together with the Indonesian authorities resulting in 11 seizures of 447 slow lorises and 19 individual arrests of traders as well as members of a slow loris pet lover group and a trade syndicate.
Early 2017 saw the arrests of three online traders of lorises in West Java, where 41 lorises were confiscated and the bust of an illegal sanctuary for lorises with the intent of breeding in West Kalimantan, where 18 lorises were confiscated. All confiscations were widely published in both print and electronic media resulting in a decrease in market displays of lorises on sale (evaluated through routine market monitoring activities), which had been identified as one of the major motives for loris demand.
Law enforcement work to mitigate the trade is on-going due to the extent and complexity of trade networks involved. IAR also routinely conducts capacity building workshops with government agencies and the police in investigation techniques, species identification, understanding and recognising trade routes and encouraging fast reaction time to wildlife crime in order to tackle the trade more effectively and to see it through till prosecutions of offenders.