Some of them had been in there for months!
The slow lorises had spent weeks crammed in tiny crates with just enough food and water to keep them alive — and they were petrified.
Two men had captured 79 of these tiny primates from the forest in West Java, Indonesia, and planned to send them to China, where they’d be sold as pets — but thankfully, that didn’t happen. When neighbors figured out what was going on, they alerted police.
The police got in touch with officials from the West Java Regional Office of the Forestry Department (BKSDA) and International Animal Rescue (IAR), and a team hurried to rescue the slow lorises — and to arrest the men who caught them.
The slow lorises were in horrible shape.
“There were two or three in each box,” Lis Key, PR and communications manager for IAR, told The Dodo. “Being kept in there for as long as two months must have been frightful for them. For a shy, nocturnal wild animal, confinement in one of those boxes for any length of time must have been traumatizing, let alone being moved around and transported.”
Many of the slow lorises had bite marks and other wounds on their bodies, which they’d probably inflicted upon each other due to the stress of captivity.
“Captive wild animals often develop stereotypical [abnormal] behaviors to cope with their stress,” Key said. “They are at risk of biting each other [and] carrying out repetitive movements, such as head bobbing or swaying to and fro, crying, failing to eat or drink, trying to hide in a corner of the box.”
One slow loris even had a BB gun pellet lodged in his face.
“That poor animal must have been in terrible pain until he came into the care of our medical team,” Key said.
Sadly, it was too late for some of the slow lorises — and it’s possible that others had died and been discarded before help arrived, Key explained. But the rescue team is doing everything it can to help the survivors.
When slow lorises are destined for the pet trade, it’s common for traffickers to clip or completely cut out their teeth — a painful procedure usually done without any kind of anesthetic — so the animals are easier to handle and can’t fight back against people handling them. Fortunately, these slow lorises still had their teeth intact, which will enable them to be returned to the wild.
“They are certainly in the best hands now, and our team will give them the best chance of recovering and returning one day to their home in the rainforest,” Key said.
Key and the rest of the IAR team are also pleased by how everyone worked together to save the slow lorises and to catch their traffickers.
“It is extremely encouraging that the Majalengka Police and the Forestry Department have acted so swiftly and decisively in tackling this wildlife crime,” Key said. “And also very heartening that the local community came forward and reported the illegal activity of the two hunters. It really gives us hope to see local people and government bodies acting to protect wildlife species and punish those who exploit them.”