At the frontline of the wildlife trade: LFP aids Cikananga in time of crisis

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On Thursday 7th November LFP volunteers Charlotte and Josie travelled across Java to Cikananga Rescue Centre. Following the news that 78 Sumatran lorises had arrived at the centre after being confiscated from the exotic pet trade.  The lorises had been living – barely – in horrific conditions; crammed into cages where they really had fought to survive.

 

The stress of the whole ordeal and the injuries they’d received throughout proved too much to bare for a number of lorises. When the girls arrived at the centre they received the news that already 18 had died. This included several infant lorises, too weak and young to survive rejection from their traumatised mothers.

Now, they will always carry their experience from the darkest side of the pet trade.  For five days the girls helped provide care for 50 lorises living in quarantine. They carried out observations throughout the night to monitor the conditions of sick or injured animals. Their experience with wild lorises meant the girls could point out strange behaviour exhibited by any of the animals. This helped identify animals in need of urgent attention.

During the daytime the girls helped built wire cages which proved a dangerous task as both Charlotte and Josie have the cuts and bruises to show for it. They collected fresh branches to replace rotten vegetation inside cages, making sure they also provided good branches for gauging. The duo also took on the unglamorous task of cleaning cages, frequently finding themselves covered in many unpleasant substances. In the evenings they helped prepare food for the lorises, cutting up fruit and catching insects. Josie temporarily lightened the sombre atmosphere by showcasing her waitressing skills, quickly and efficiently getting the feeding trays back to the hungry lorises.

One evening the girls went to help in the clinic where they got a real feel for the horrors these lorises had lived through. The condition of these nine individuals when they arrived at Cikananga was absolutely critical and demanded the most urgent attention. The injuries they had to show for it proved as such, one young male had a terrible wound that left some skin hanging off his skull. Another loris is likely to lose her eye due to a terribly infected abscess and a pregnant female arrived with a deep gash across her stomach and the Cikananga team really thought she wouldn’t pull through, let alone survive to deliver a baby. Because of the excellent care these lorises received since they arrived at the centre, many of the clinic lorises are now doing well enough to be discharged from the clinic and two have already joined the other quarantine lorises.

Charlotte took on a mothering role and spent several hours holding a malnourished baby which had been admitted to the clinic. After hand fed him crickets and keeping him warm against her chest, she left the clinic feeling hopeful the little one would pull through. Sadly the next morning when she arrived to carry out morning observations, she was given the heart breaking news that he didn’t make it.

Josie found the week extremely challenging on both physically and emotionally, “When I arrived at Cikananga I only had the facts, 78 lorises, many in poor conditions, many had already died. I didn’t know what to expect since already this number was beyond anything I could imagine. When we got to the centre and they told us 18 had passed, it was heart wrenching. Already more lorises had died than Little Fireface Project has collared for their observation studies and we are SO SO attached to our lorises. It was dark when we ventured over to meet the quarantine lorises, so as the door opened and my headlamp lit up with room I was immediately overwhelmed by how many eyes reflected back at me. Then we wandered between the cages and got a glimpse of the wounds on some of the lorises. What I saw broke my heart and I couldn’t hold back my tears. These animals that I am so passionate about had obviously been to hell and back. Many of them looked completely defeated and almost all of them displayed abnormal behaviour. While I was at the centre I became particularly fond of a mother and her three babies. She had a horrible injury on her chest which was infected and seeping puss but still she battled on for her babies. Tragically the smallest of her little ones became sick, deteriorated quickly and passed away one night. Hearing about the horrors surrounding the animal trade in Asia and actually seeing them first hand are two very different things. A number of confiscated animals are not just a number of confiscated animals when you clean them, feed them and watch them every day. The team at Cikananga are truly wonderful, working around the clock to care for these animals and they need all the help they can get.”

Charlottes take on the whole experience; “Amongst the death, dirt and despair I feel so proud to have helped such a wonderful team through a time where sleep is but a dream. True dedication was never more so deserved as a description of the efforts made by the Cikananga staff. It almost always seems that the hardest efforts and sacrifices made by people in the world are the ones that go unseen or heard by the masses. But when you settle down tonight to watch TV on a nice comfy sofa, spare a thought for the people working around the clock, on their hands and knees at the mercy of the wildlife trade to care for the many animals ripped from the wild and subjected to such vile conditions. As a result their injuries are like that of a gruesome horror movie, except this is real and there is no end to the show real of horrors.”

Charlotte and Josie found their time with the lorises in Cikananga to be a real eye opening experience on the grim reality of the animal trade and the fallout following a large confiscation. Slow Lorises are wild animals and should be left in the wild where they belong. A pet that needs its teeth removed to prevent a venomous bite is not a good pet. A good pet should not come from a small, dirty, smelly cage crammed with other animals. Don’t support the illegal trade in Slow Lorises because the outcome is the unnecessary death or deterioration of these beautiful creatures.

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