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Slow Loris Project, Ranong
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Due to illegal pet trade, medical misuse and habitat destruction, the status of the slow loris is likely to be moved up to a more protective level on the list of endangered species. Therefore, the Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand (WARF) is eager to launch a new project to protect and rehabilitate these lovely primates.


Threats to the slow loris

Currently, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species ranks the slow loris as lower risk but their increasing popularity as illegal pets have encouraged the Cambodian government to propose uplisting these primates from Appendix 2 to Appendix 1 within the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This means a ban on the international trade of the slow loris.

According to International Animal Rescue, thousands of slow lorises are poached from the wild and illegally sold in animal markets around the world. The nocturnal primates suffer terrible stress from exposure to the sunlight at these markets where they are dumped in cramped cages. The vendors cut their teeth to prevent them from biting and sell them as babies. Tragically, many of them die from trauma or injuries even before they have been sold. In Thailand trade routes to the Lao People's Democratic Republic are reported by the loris conservation database.

 

 

 Illegal pet trade of slow lorises
(Picture from http://www.loris-conservation.org/)

Apart from pet dealers, habitat destruction and poaching lorises for medical reasons are serious problems throughout Asia . A traditional Cambodian medicine to alleviate childbirth pain is loris wine, each bottle made from the bodies of three animals mixed with rice wine. Furthermore, carcasses are dried and smoked for use in other traditional remedies. There is trade here, often from rural areas into cities, but it rarely crosses international borders.

   

 

"I think domestic trade is by far the most urgent issue we should be looking at," says Chris Shepherd of the wildlife trade monitoring organisation Traffic. "We'd like to urge enforcement agencies in range states and consumer countries, which are often the same, to close down the domestic markets. Domestic trade is prevented under law in all the range states, yet it's widespread and carried out in an open manner, which points to a need for better domestic enforcement."  

Slow Loris with cut wound (left) and with gunshot wound (right) - both have been released after their treatment

WARF's current activities in slow loris care

Since 2001 The Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand (WARF) runs a very ambitious project named Wild Animal Rescue and Education Center (WARED). The Center is located in the small village of Baan Thalaenork, surrounded by a vast area of virgin mountaneous rain forrest, only 80km south of the city of Ranong. The purpose of WARED is to house animals who cannot be (or are not yet ready to be) released back into the wild. The center also wants to keep the animals' lives as close as possible to a natural situation. Conservation and education are key components of the project, as it would like to limit future destruction of the local ecosystem.

Before the Rescue Center was set up, the villagers of Baan Thalaenork injured or killed slow lorises that entered their houses or approached their caged birds in search for food. Now that an institution exists with professional knowledge concerning animal care, the villages often catch the slow lorises and bring them to WARED. The veterinarian and the local staff examine the primates, treat possible wounds and release them again at a safe distance from the village.

 

Furthermore, educational activities with the local school children are organised with the purpose of creating environmental understanding and encouraging a more sensitive behaviour towards the abundance of animals that can be found in the area.

Currently, there are two slow lorises at the Rescue Center , an adolescent female that lost one eye and can, therefore, not be released and an adolescent that came to WARED when it was only a few weeks old. When the baby loris was brought to WARF, the female instantly accepted the newcomer and has been caring for it since. However, the juvenile has a good chance of being released and will, therefore, be separated from the female soon.  

   

 

Juvenile and adolescent female (left) and juvenile being fed with grashopper (right)

Since the juvenile loris has been brought up more or less in captivity, a successful release depends on a proper rehabilitation. For this reason, WARED is building a special rehabilitation site for lorises that allows for them to forage for food (e.g. insects and lizards) independently and train for their future life in the wild.

   

 

  Slow loris rehabilitation enclosure


How WARF can make an impact

In order to actively engage in the protection of these lovely animals, WARF aims to set up a Slow Loris Conservation project in the Rescue Center of Baan Thalaenork. The staff has proven successful in caring for slow lorises and returning them back to the wild. On a bigger scale, further education on the behaviour and endangerement of these mammals could be done in the province of Ranong and other areas. Also, public campaigns can be initiated that create awareness of the lorises' miserable situation. Moreover, facilities can be built at WARED to take in more mistreated slow lorises and treat their injuries. The aim, whenever possible, is to release them into the wild. However, in order to do so, intensive studies must be carried out on the genetics, taxonomy and the origin of these primates. For those slow lorises that, due to physical or behavioural impairment cannot survive in the wild, WARED can provide a lifelong sanctuary.


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References

  • Consideration of Proposals for Amendement of Appendices I and II, 14 th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, The Hague (The Netherlands) 03-15.06.2007
  • International Animal Rescue: Flyer "Slow Loris Rescue - Putting an end to the illegal trade"
  • Black, R. (2007): Too cute for comfort. On www.news.bbc.co.uk
  • Fitch-Snyder, H. and Schulze, H. (2001): Management of Lorises in Captivity. Published by the Center for Reproducion of Endangered Species (CRES), Zoological Society of San Diego
  • Lekagul, B. and McNeely, J. A. (1988): Mammals of Thailand , Second Edition



@ 2007 Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand. All rights reserved.
Photographs courtesy of WARF Staff and Volunteers Niether graphics nor text maybe produced wihtout WARF's express written consent
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