After hosting a BBC Natural World documentary revealing the plight of the slow loris in Indonesia, a top primatologist has started a campaign to cease the trade in this particular threatened primate.
Anna Nekaris, the host, is Professor in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University and specialises in lorises, nocturnal mammals and Asian primates. In the programme Jungle Gremlins of Java which was broadcast in January this year, Anna is followed by the cameras as she checks out the infamous pet markets in Jakarta. Here slow lorises and other vulnerable and endangered species are openly on sale.
Our primate rehabilitation centre in Java is home to more than 100 slow lorises that have been rescued from the illegal pet trade. Nowadays it is easier to find these animals in the markets than it is in the wild.
Slow loris threatened by the pet trade.
The plight of these cute looking primates starts when they are snared from the wild, these shy, nocturnal primates are jam-packed into small wire cages.
Once the captured animals are passed on to the traders the suffering really starts. The traders cut down the lorises’ teeth with nail clippers or pliers to stop them from biting. This terrible mutilation often triggers infection, leading to the painful death of many of the lorises before they have even been sold or made it to the pet markets.
TV documentary led to campaign to get slow loris trade banned.
In response to the huge public outcry at the views of distress in the animal markets, Professor Nekaris began a postcard campaign recommending to the Indonesian government to close the markets down, thereby ending the agony of thousands of wild animals and stifling a trade which is moving the slow loris species to the threshold of extinction.
In merely a few weeks Anna compiled more than 700 signed postcards and 500 extra comments and statements from key conservationists including the world famous Ethologist Marc Bekoff. Last Wednesday 21 March, she presented them to a representative from the Indonesian Embassy.
Dr Nekaris said: “Indonesia is home to three of the world’s slow loris species. The public response to the plight of these animals has been truly overwhelming. The loris is little known, however, even within Indonesia. We are very happy to work with the government to help them develop training initiatives to promote protection of these rare and precious primates, and to help with enforcement of Indonesia’s existing laws.”
Anna’s campaign is being given support by International Animal Rescue (IAR), at whose centre in West Java a great deal of the BBC documentary was filmed, and by the Born Free Foundation (BFF). The BFF’s letter-writing team, Activate, has been supporting the effort of Dr Nekaris to maintain the slow loris. Virginia McKenna OBE, BFF Founder and Trustee, has also constructed a personal letter to the Indonesian Embassy advocating them to act and shut down the market.
She says in her letter: “The slow loris, the world’s only venomous primate, is a fascinating and beautiful example of Indonesia’s stunning wildlife, and the loris from Java is on the list of the world’s 25 Most Endangered Primates. Indonesia is to be commended for its legislation banning the trade in slow lorises but I respectfully urge the Government to strenuously enforce their laws to protect this remarkable creature.”
Alan Knight OBE, IAR’s CEO, adds: “Our primate rehabilitation centre in Java is home to more than 100 slow lorises that have been rescued from the illegal pet trade. Nowadays it is easier to find these animals in the markets than it is in the wild. We will do all we can to assist the Indonesian government in protecting this unique endangered species before it is too late.”
Oxford Brookes University. Slow Loris.