Last month, 10 Critically Endangered Javan slow lorises were transported to the Mount Sawal Wildlife Reserve (SMGS)in Ciamis, West Java, where they will undergo habituation before their complete release into the rainforest.
The lorises consist of four males and six females: Neira, Ical, Kaja, Putra, Arimbi, Switch, April, Gatotkaca, Neno, and Noku. Most of them have been surrendered by members of the local community to the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) in the West Java region since 2018. They have since undergone lengthy rehabilitation at the International Animal Rescue Primate Rehabilitation Center in Bogor, West Java.The facility is the only one of its kind in Indonesia.
“The keeping of slow lorises as pets is having a devastating impact on wild populations, particularly as their natural habitat is also under threat,” Alan Knight, OBE, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue (IAR) said in a statement sent to WAN. “The IAR Indonesia team has invested a huge amount of time and effort into helping these little primates recover and return to their wild behavior.”
Sadly, when they first arrive at the center, slow lorises are usually suffering from stress, trauma, and malnutrition, and they often display behavioral changes because their needs as wild lorises have not been met. They have been deprived of a suitable living environment and appropriate food and have been unable to behave as they would in the wild.
During the lorises’ habituation, the team in the field will continue to observe and record the changes in their behavior for two to four weeks. If during the habituation period all the lorises are active and don’t display any abnormal behaviors, then they can finally be set free.
The 10 slow lorises were confirmed to be ready to return to their natural habitat after going through treatment and recovery procedures such as quarantine, medical examinations, and behavioral observations at the rehabilitation center.
The normal treatment procedures at the center have been reinforced in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. IAR’s teams, using masks and other PPE, have limited contact with the animals even more than usual, and the number of personnel working in the field has also had to be reduced.
“During the pandemic, we have improved the health and safety protocols covering release activity to minimize the risk of disease transmission,” explained IAR Veterinarian Nur Purba Priambada. “We have ensured that the implementation of protocols such as physical distancing and using masks is carried out properly.”
All adjustments during the release procedure are part of efforts to eliminate the potential for transmission of COVID-19 and other zoonotic infectious diseases and ensure that the release and other conservation activities can still run even in the midst of the pandemic.
The slow loris conservation program in the SMGS area is a collaboration between the Central Natural Resources Conservation Agency of West Java (BBKSDA Jawa Barat) and IAR Indonesia.This program supports the survival of slow lorises and their ecological functions in the area, as well as to conserve their population when numbers continue to fall due to hunting and illegal trade.
“SMGS is a conservation area with an ecosystem that is considered suitable as a place to conserve and protect the survival of slow lorises,” said Warid, a Forest Ranger at the Natural Resources Conservation Agency of Ciamis Region. “Based on results of the survey conducted by the IAR Indonesia and BKSDA Ciamis team, the area has good potential in terms of security, availability of food, shade, and several other vital components for loris habitat.”
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