After starring in a BBC documentary exposing the plight of the slow loris in Indonesia, a leading primatologist has mounted a campaign to end the trade in this Endangered primate. Anna Nekaris is Professor in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University and specialises in lorises, nocturnal mammals and Asian primates: www.brookes.ac.uk/slowloris
In the programme Jungle Gremlins of Java which aired in January http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01bcp7z Anna is seen visiting the notorious pet markets in Jakarta where slow lorises and other endangered species are openly on sale. Having been caught from the wild, these shy, nocturnal primates are packed in small wire cages in broad daylight – a far cry from their natural home deep in the forest. Worst of all, the traders cut out the lorises’ teeth with nail clippers or pliers to prevent them from biting. This cruel mutilation often causes infection, leading to the death of many of the lorises before they have even been sold.
In response to the huge public outcry at the scenes of suffering in the animal markets, Professor Nekaris mounted a postcard campaign urging the Indonesian government to shut them down, thus ending the misery of thousands of wild animals and stifling a trade which is driving the slow loris species to the brink of extinction.
In only a few weeks Anna has collected more than 700 signed postcards and 500 additional comments from key conservationists including the world famous Ethologist Marc Bekoff. Yesterday, Wednesday 21 March, she presented them to a representative from the Indonesian Embassy.
She says: “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 supported by International Animal Rescue (IAR), at whose centre in West Java much of the BBC documentary was filmed, and by the Born Free Foundation (BFF). The Foundation’s letter-writing team, Activate, has been supporting the efforts of Prof Nekaris to protect the slow loris. Virginia McKenna OBE, BFF Founder and Trustee, has also written a personal letter to the Indonesian Embassy urging them to act and shut down the markets.
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.”