Published 17 December 2010


Rapid demonstration of illicit slow loris trade

Jakarta, Indonesia, 17th December 2010—Just a day after conservationists and government officials gathered to discuss the future of slow lorises, 18 of these threatened primates were seen openly for sale in Pasar Jati Negara, one of Jakarta’s major bird markets.

One of the 18 slow lorises seen openly - and illegally - for sale in Jati Negara market, Indonesia. © Olivier Caillabet/TRAFFIC

Slow lorises are seriously threatened by trade, and wildlife markets in many parts of western Indonesia openly display these totally protected primates for sale, with little or no fear of prosecution.

In the Jati Negara Market on 10th December, slow lorises were seen displayed in cages at several stalls fronting a main road. At one stall, TRAFFIC staff counted six lorises crowded into a single cage.

“These animals exemplify the threats slow lorises and other protected species face in Indonesia—trade is carried out openly and dealers do not fear reprimand or penalties”, said Deputy Regional Director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Chris R. Shepherd.

Other species observed for sale alongside the lorises in Jati Negara market that day included Crested Serpent-eagle, Changeable Hawk-eagle, Black-winged Kite and Leopard Cat. All are totally protected under Indonesia’s laws and cannot be commercially traded.

Speaking at the Slow Loris Conservation in Indonesia seminar a day earlier, Shepherd had called for urgent efforts on the part of the authorities to stop the illegal trade in such species.

He said slow lorises were sometimes confiscated by authorities but there was little or no deterrent to those dealing in them because penalties were rarely handed down.

“Dealers are well aware of the illegality of their trade in these species. Only with successful prosecution and sustained efforts by authorities to close down this trade, will the situation change. Anything less is meaningless.” 

Indonesia is home to three species of slow loris: the Greater Slow Loris (Nycticebus coucang), the Bornean Slow Loris (N. menagensis) and the Javan Slow Loris (N. javanicus). 

The latter is the most seriously threatened, and is considered Endangered by the IUCN and included in the top 25 most threatened primates in the world. These small, nocturnal primates are valued as pets in Indonesia.

Seminar participants also requested the Indonesian government revise the list of nationally protected species to include all species of slow lorises under the genus Nycticebus. Current only one species is recognized, while taxonomists have agreed three species are native to Indonesia.

The seminar, organized by International Animal Rescue Indonesia (IAR), also saw the participation of rescue centres in Indonesia that care for confiscated lorises.

The IAR rescue rehab centre reported that it has received more than 150 lorises in the past three years, mainly surrendered by pet owners. Less than a quarter of these animals came from confiscations. 

“These primates are traded openly in main bird markets in Jakarta and some pet shops in malls in Bandung and many other parts of the country. It is obvious that people do not take the Indonesian laws seriously,” said Karmele Llano Sánchez, Veterinary Director of International Animal Rescue Indonesia.

“Only a small percentage of traded lorises are rescued and even those can rarely be returned to the wild as traders remove their teeth prior to selling the animals. If we seriously want to protect these threatened species, tackling the illegal trade must be taken seriously”, she added.