Police Find Terrified Animals Huddling In Boxes In Man's Home
They're one of the most endangered primates in the world.
An Indonesian man had just finished packing eight slow lorises into two white mesh boxes - four animals in each box. Someone had just bought them, and the man was ready to send the animals to the buyer, who lived in another part of Indonesia.
The slow lorises huddled together in the corners of the boxes, looking terrified. They had no water and only a few scraps of food.
Then the police arrived at the man's home in Majalengka, West Java. They arrested him and seized the slow lorises, who were placed in the care of International Animal Rescue (IAR), a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organization.
While there are five types of slow lorises, these animals were Javan slow lorises - one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Despite the slow loris' endangered status, they're are being taken from the wild and sold as pets at an alarming rate.
Just one day before the eight slow lorises were rescued in Majalengka, a team from IAR rescued another lot of slow lorises - 16 adults, two juveniles and one newborn baby - from a private residence in Cirebon, West Java. The person holding them also intended to sell them online.
Unfortunately, the newborn baby died on the way to IAR's rehabilitation center.
"Usually, the mortality rate of confiscated lorises is high," Christine Rattel, program advisor at IAR, said in a statement. "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."
"Up to 80 percent of lorises captured from the wild do not even make it to the markets or the buyers, which means that for one slow loris that someone might buy illegally and keep as a pet, four more will have died in the process," Rattel added.
The good news is that most of the slow lorises - the eight rescued from Majalengka and the remaining 18 rescued from Cirebon - are in relatively good health, despite being a bit dehydrated and suffering from eye conditions.
The slow lorises also have their teeth intact, which is excellent news. Unfortunately, when people capture slow lorises for entertainment purposes, they'll often remove their teeth - yanking them out with pliers or nail clippers without pain relief - so they're easier to handle.
But since these slow lorises still have their teeth, they'll be good candidates for release back into the wild, according to Wendi Prameswari, a veterinarian with IAR.
"We hope that these animals can be returned to the wild, where they belong, as soon as possible," Prameswari said in a statement.
While these slow lorises were lucky to be rescued, the species as a whole faces huge challenges. In fact, slow lorises could disappear form the wild within the next five years, according to IAR.
But there is still hope - IAR is currently working with police and government officials to try and stop online trafficking of slow lorises.
"Online wildlife crime has become the new modus operandi for wildlife traffickers," Karmele Llano Sanchez, program director of IAR, said in a statement. "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."