Lorises are nocturnal primates that forage during the night and sleep during the day. They move along slowly (hence the name), but rather than being a weakness their deliberate movement enables them to travel through the canopy without disturbing the vegetation, which keeps them out of sight of would be predators. Slow lorises are also able to produce a toxin, and so when they bite with their razor-sharp teeth they tend to hold on so that the maximum amount of toxin is transferred to the enemy. Slow loris bites tend to swell up and get infected easily.
Though slow lorises are protected species (meaning that it's illegal to trade them)(1), they are heavily trafficked, with hundreds being poached and smuggled out of the national parks of Sumatra every year. As "cute" as Pem looks, she's doesn't make a good pet. In addition to this, slow lorises bite and are said to be carriers of rabies. My friend asked me to make a video of Pem devouring a gecko in hopes that the scene might dissuade notions that lorises are "cute, cuddly creatures". Below you can see the world premier of Slow Loris Vs. Gecko Parts I and II. The clips are pretty graphic, so if you have a weak stomach you might want to skip them. In part I we see Pem trying to figure out the glass jar I used to maintain my distance from the loris while preventing the gecko from escaping. Then in part II (the sequel) we see the grizzly end of the gecko (2).
Slow lorises are not the only species susceptible to poaching at Kerinci Seblat National Park and other protected areas on Sumatra. A 2009 study of markets found that 183 protected species were being traded in villages around the park. The Sumatran Tiger has long been a target for poachers, who hunt and kill the tigers for their skins as well as for their bones, internal organs, and reproductive parts, which are all believed by some (misguided) folks to have medicinal properties. From time to time a poaching syndicate is uncovered in the areas around the park. Birds are another heavily-trafficked animal commodity. In a recent article in Inside Indonesia (3)
|Photo from Inside Indonesia|
Unfortunately there is no easy solution to this problem. In many cases villagers aren't very supportive of enforcement efforts, and the socio-economic conditions that contribute to the poaching industry are very hard to address. But you can do your part...the next time you see a slow loris for sale, leave it be.
References and for further reading...
Read Anton Lucas's article here.
(1) All 5 species of slow loris are listed as vulnerable or endangered by the IUCN.
(2) I had to upload the videos to youtube and then embed them in the post because blogger sucks so terribly.
(3) Thanks to my friend Luke for alerting me to this article.
(4) It should be pointed out here that not all songbirds are endangered species and that in some cases songbird associations are strong supporters of protected areas.