27 critically endangered Javan slow lorises rescued from online traders in Indonesia

In two separate busts, Indonesian law enforcement officials confiscated 27 slow lorises, a critically endangered species, that were poached from the wild and to be sold online via social media networks.

by: Mike Gaworecki

course: news.mongabay.com

  • The Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus) is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and is considered one of the most endangered primate species in the world due mainly to habitat loss and the illegal wildlife trade.
  • Mortality rates of confiscated lorises is typically quite high, according to Christine Rattel, a program advisor at International Animal Rescue Indonesia, because traders load them into small, cramped crates, which can cause wounds, stress, and more serious medical problems that can result in death.
  • Perpetrators of wildlife crime can be prosecuted under Indonesia’s Natural Protection Law and face up to five years in prison as well as fines of 100 million Indonesian Rupiah (about $7,400).
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A slow loris rescued in Cirebon on January 20. Photo copyright International Animal Rescue.

On January 20, Indonesian law enforcement officials and the country’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry confiscated 19 Javan slow lorises from an online trader in Cirebon, West Java.

Results of a preliminary medical examination, conducted by a medical team and a specialized team of animal keepers with International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia, found that the rescued animals were dehydrated and some were suffering from eye infections. Their teeth, which are usually clipped by traders, were still intact, however.

The Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus) is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and is considered one of the most endangered primate species in the world.

“This species is listed as Critically Endangered based on a combination of historic forest loss and continued degradation meaning that less than 20% of habitat suitable for N. javanicus remains,” according to the IUCN. “Adding to this, the species has experienced a suspected decline of at least 80% over the last 24 years due to severe and persistent and ongoing persecution for the pet trade.”

The rescued lorises — 16 adults, two juveniles, and one newborn — were taken to an IAR rescue and rehabilitation center. The newborn died in transit, but the rest are faring relatively well, according to Wendi Prameswari, the head veterinarian at IAR Indonesia.

“The results of the medical health checks show that the animals are all in good body condition and their teeth hadn’t been damaged yet,” Prameswari said in a statement. “All individuals show very wild behaviours which suggests that they have been recently caught and have not spent a long time in captivity. We hope that these animals can be returned to the wild, where they belong, as soon as possible.”

Mortality rates of confiscated lorises is typically quite high, said Christine Rattel, a program advisor at IAR Indonesia. “Traders load the lorises together in small, cramped crates after poaching them from the wild, and this causes them wounds, stress, and sometimes serious medical problems that may even result in death,” she explained, adding that as much as 80 percent of lorises captured from the wild never even make it to the intended markets or buyers. That means that four slow lorises have likely died for every animal that is illegally sold and kept as a pet.

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One of the slow lorises rescued January 21 in Majalengka being attended to by medical personnel. Photo copyright International Animal Rescue.

Achmad Pribadi, the Head of the Sub Directorate for the Protection and Security of Forests, a division of Indonesia’s Directorate General for Law Enforcement, said that intelligence data about an online seller of protected wildlife residing in Cirebon led to the rescue of the slow lorises as well as the arrest of one 24-year-old individual who was allegedly an online trader of the animals.

The 18 surviving lorises will be kept at IAR’s rehabilitation center until all the necessary medical check ups have been completed and all legal permits obtained, then released into a protected forest.

On January 21, the day after those 19 slow lorises were rescued in Cirebon, police in Majalengka, also in the province of West Java, confiscated another eight Javan slow lorises from a hunter who is a supplier and online trader of illegal wildlife. The police arrested the suspect at his house after he had apparently just finished packing the slow lorises into plastic boxes for shipment to the province of Yogyakarta. Superintendent Roostanto Mada of the Majalengka police force said the man had caught the slow lorises from the wild before selling them on a social media platform.

“If we don’t take immediate action to combat the illegal trade of slow lorises, they might disappear within the next five years,” the Sub Directorate for the Protection and Security of Forests’ Pribadi said in a statement. “We are sending a strong message to all online traders of wildlife that law enforcement does not tolerate such cases of illegal wildlife trade.”

Pribadi added that perpetrators of wildlife crime can be prosecuted under Indonesia’s Natural Protection Law and face up to five years in prison as well as fines of 100 million Indonesian Rupiah (about $7,400).

“Online wildlife crime has become the new modus operandi for wildlife traffickers,” said Karmele Llano Sanchez, program director of IAR Indonesia. “Tackling wildlife cybercrime has become a global issue endangering many species of wildlife and thus we sincerely applaud the efforts of the Ministry of Forestry and Environment and the Police for these very successful operations. Law enforcement efforts are essential to stop wildlife trade.”

Slow lorises rescued in Cirebon on January 20. Photo copyright International Animal Rescue.
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