Cute But Deadly- The Critically Endangered Slow LorisesHot Buzz

December 11, 2020 14:04
Cute But Deadly- The Critically Endangered Slow Lorises

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Fighting the battle against extinction, Indonesia’s slow lorises are almost winning.

When you see these creatures, they have the cutest faces that mankind has ever witnessed. Their eyes speak. As a human, looking into their eyes, you can tell what they are feeling- hungry, sad, happy or angry.

These species belong in the wild in Indonesian and Brazilian rain forests. However, they are often sought after as exotic pets. And paraded as photo props at tourist traps, shows, circuses and snatched in their early years from rainforest habitats and sold online or in animal markets.

The IA center in Indonesia, a two hour drive from Jakarta rescues these ill-fated lorises, nurses them back to health and sends them back to their natural habitat. They have captured over 1000 lorises with over 670 returns into the wild in the last 10 years. The IAR is also the world’s largest rescue center for slow lorises.

Currently, around 200 lorises are being cared for at the center.

During the illegal trade of these animals, the slow lorises teeth are clipped off and they usually suffer from metabolic bone disease caused by malnutrition, resulting in stunted growth and abnormally soft bones.

The goal of the center is to return as many lorises back to their natural habitat and freeing them from human captures.

It is not an overstatement when we say that looks could kill. As adorable as these animals look, that is also how deadly they can be.

Slow lorises are the world’s only venomous primate. They are capable of inflicting a lethal bite which can cause death through an anaphylaxis shock- meaning failing respiratory organs, fainting, itching an hives all over the body. Their toxins are stored in the elbow patch of their body which is mixed with their saliva before they strike their enemy.

The reason sellers remove their teeth is to prevent these slow lorises from biting and poisoning their new owners.

All slow loris species are listed under CITES international commercial trade as selling them illegal. Yet, despite protection under local and international laws, they remain traded in large numbers.

Indonesian rich biodiversity makes it a target for illegal global trade, estimated to earn about 23 billion dollars each year form illegal trading. However, these deadly operations are what is driving species to extinction. Th slow LORIS is now among the world’s top 25 most endangered primates and categories as critically endangered on the IUCN’s Red list. Its population has declined by at least 80 percent over the last 20 years.

Captured lorises are under appalling conditions where they are trapped for days, do not receive any food and are severely beaten for screaming in pain and fear. They often suffer from stress and anxiety from lack of food, trapped surrounding and tranquilizers.

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The IAR center also hosts a cyber crime team who tracks illegal lorises business in Indonesia and reports them the police officials. In 2019, they were able to rescue 79 lorises by tracking down illegal traders online who were also hoisting various other animals. Currently, the team has rescued over 2000 slow lorises species this year.

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By Meena Atmakuri

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