The Bengal Slow Loris (Nycticebus coucang) are unique nocturnal primates with them being the largest size of their species and their weight is usually 1100g to 1,600g. They like to reside in many locations such as tropical rainforest, seasonal evergreen forest, deciduous tropical forest, sub-tropical hill forest, savannah, swamps and many more habitats! Many of these habitats are located in north-eastern India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, southern China and Thailand.
Their appearance does not differ, both having a white stripe coming down between their large and round eyes with minimal color vision. Their head is roundish with tiny ears hidden in their thick fur and they have a stumpy vestigial tail also covered by their thick and woolly fur. The Bengal Slow Loris have a diet where they ingest by licking the tree around wounds oozing gum. Other ranges of food include insects, fruits and sap. They catch their prey usuing their opposable thumb, giving it a pincer-like grip and swiftly hunts their target with both hands.
Their lifestyle is slow and because of this they have a low metabolic rate. They enjoy spending their days sleeping in a curled up ball position in branches, twigs, palm fonds or vines of trees from the ground and their sleeping sites may change within their home range. One of the most unique quality this species contains is the toxic substance from glands of the elbow that it can produce. It is licked off the gland where it is noticeable in the comb-like teeth at the front of the mouth.
When the loris encounters a predator, the species bites it’s foe transmitting it poison and giving it an anaphylactic shock which is a severe allergic reaction with symptoms that may include a rash, fainting and difficult in breathing. The Bengal Slow Loris is an endangered species that without it’s existence, the ecosystem in which it resides will fall into an unhealthy disaster. One may ask why this species is in the endangered list and the answer to that varies widely.
One of the main reason for its population decrease is the harmful causes of poaching towards the slow loris for its wooly fur to be sold in markets to create huge profits out of it. They are commonly also being hunted for traditional medicine to treat stomach issues, repair broken bones, and sexually transmitted diseases. We must stop this illegal action to preserve these animals because it’s role as a seed disperser and pollinator will cease to exist and so will the flowers and plants reproduction. The food web will be disrupt and unbalance, possibly causing other populations of other species in its environment to decrease or become extinct.
Although the slow loris is kept in protected places, poaching and illegal logging is still not prevent as for the laws aren’t enforced enough. Not only will this sort of action may cause a complete wipe-out of this species, it may lead other poachers to resort to other animals as a replacement and endanger their lives as well. In other cultures, this is an acceptable occasion but our main objective is to obstruct this illegal operation and protest (in other words boycotting) as much as we can to provide effort on maintaining the population of the slow bengal loris.
An organization named the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has created protected areas, enhancing protection laws for no severe threats to occur. Wildlife trade, deforestation and hunting have been prohibited as much as possible to help the species’ survival. Lawachara National Park is an example of a climate that helps ensure the safety and reproduction of the Bengal Slow Loris and other endangered species. A group called “ProFauna Indonesia” have demonstrated ways to increase protection for slow lorises and protests trading or buying the lorises.
The Bengal Slow Loris disperses seeds and pollinates which allows flowers and other plants to reproduce. Without the existence of this species, predators such as pythons, hawk-eagles and orangutans would have less food to hunt and would advance on other prey as a substitute which can endanger them. The Bengal Slow Loris also consumes large insects so that way they won’t be overpopulated and the food chain can be kept in order. The disappearance of the Bengal Slow Loris would result in an unhealthy environment and possible endangerment of its predators or many other species.
Without this species their habitat and its consumers would suffer some severe consequences. As mentioned before, the Bengal Slow Loris is an endangered species and has a high risk of ceasing to exist. Scientists are still formulating conservation plans such as protecting its habitat, and enforcing stricter wildlife protection laws. The Bengal Slow Loris is aboreals so it is crucial to downsize deforestation. Since they rely so heavily on trees poachers don’t have a difficult time locating them, since they just have to search for the species in the trees.
The Bengal Slow Loris’ contribution to the ecosystem is extremely important since it disperses seeds and preys on a lot of insects and small vertebrates. Scientists know it’s environment preference but scientists are still currently suspecting whether some predators are threatening it’s lives such as the sun bears. Scientists have predicted that the population of the species will decline by over 30% in a few years from poachers hunting their fur and other uses for beneficial reasons.
Methods on how to obtain medicinal properties include having the species being burned alive while hunters are surrounding the dying animal catching the liquor that drips out and using pieces of their bodies in these medicine. Due to these traditional hunters, the lorises are currently being less seen in regions that were once so common to spot a group of them. Originally the Bengal Slow Loris were hunted for food which was reasonable because people around these areas need to survive by consuming energy.
However, upon finding their size uninteresting as a source of food, poachers began to realize that hunting these animals provided a more useful beneficial effect to their lives. They began trading lorises’ body parts and/or used them for medicinal treatment or turn their fur into coats or other pieces of clothing to make them warm. Some hunters don’t even kill the species and capture them for pets, or sell them as pets. It is stated that “slow loris are usually sold for around $20 each in small markets and shopping malls in major cities”.
Lorises contain a toxic bite, a secreting toxin in salivary glands so they can transfer toxins in a bite and also coat their fur in it. Finding their teeth a life-danger threat, they are removed by the use of pilers which causes the Bengal Slow Loris (in fact this is applies to all different species of lorises) to suffer a high mortality while being kept in captivity since they are meant to be in their own natural environment. Unfortunately, poor handling and animal cruelty is commonly found in all owners keeping the lorises as house pets.
ProFauna Indonesia is a wildlife activist group that is currently taking action to ban illegal dealing and trading for the all kinds of lorises. According the group, “7,000 lorises have been caught and traded since 2000”, which leads to the dramatic decreasing rate of the species’ population. They are working with other organizations that are preserving other species to have the lorises listed on the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species Fauna and Flora which will enhance the restriction of the trading and hunting this species.
The republic of Indonesia and Susil Bamband Yudhoyono must be educated and aware of the neglect of these species and to regulate legislatures from preventing the action of keeping lorises as pets. The misleading videos of slow lorises shows the audience that they’re adorable interior pets and believes them into thinking that they’re obedient household pets. The individuals watching these videos (most of them come from the socializing network “YouTube”) fail to realize the agonizing torture that these animals are suffering in order to be kept as house pets and that it is illegal to own one in most countries.
While these small and nocturnal animals tend to be much more adaptable when people trespass upon their habitat than other species of primate, they’re still all too often thought to “cure” various illness with their body parts (especially coming the slow lorises), and traded as pets throughout their native habitat of Southeast Asia, and when they’re successfully smuggled to the rest of the world. The Bengal Slow Loris have a slow motion body movement similar to the sloths. Predators and hunters have an easy time capturing them which is why the loris is close to extinction.
Because they are an easy prey, carnivorous animals such as pythons and hawk-eagles hunt them down in swift moves that makes the loris vulnerable to their movement. Although because the Slow Bengal Loris is unhurried, their presence are usually undetected and the attacks on this species may be avoidable through crypsis. They produce a toxin in which was explained earlier and bite their predator into a state of anaphylactic shock. Another huge factor for the Slow Bengal Loris’ population decrease is us, the local community around the species.
A severe degradation and lose of the species’ habitat is currently occurring throughout the loris’ range. This destruction is destroying as well as killing the populations and eradicating them entirely. Jhum, one of the key causes of habitat loss, is a practice where hillside forest is being burnt in order for agricultural land to become fertile (this is currently happening in north-eastern India). This practice leads to tree destruction and food becoming scarce which causes the Slow Bengal Loris to have a difficult adjustment to it’s new and badly improved environment setting.
They will have a hard time looking for a suitable tree with strong branches to support their weight (considering them being the largest loris of their species) and to keep them above the ground where predators usually lurk. In addition to this problem, numerous individuals have been recorded of them being killed by passing vehicles while crossing the streets. Drivers have a hard time noticing their presence because of their slow nature doesn’t quite perceive them.
Plus, the loris isn’t fast enough to avoid vehicles so a warning sign should be advise to alert drivers to keep an extra look on the road. Now after listing all their threats that may lead to the path of extinction, what are efficient methods to conserve these charismatic animals? We can start by supporting the famous group, International Animal Rescue Indonesia. They’ve been working to put an end to the illegal trading of the slow lorises for years now. A new rescue facility in the care of this species has been created in Ciapus (Bogor, Indonesia).
Working along with universities and scientists that care deeply about the safety of these animals their main achievable goal is to return the Bengal Slow Loris as well as it’s other species to the adaptable wild that it once came from. In order to accomplish that, numerous and well carried out studies must be intensively experimented with conclusions on the genetics, taxonomy and the origin of these primates. Eventually a network throughout the whole country will be formed to alert more people about this destructive cause and educate the minds of the community on the reality of these suffering animals.
International Animal Rescue will also provide lifelong sanctuary for those animals that have had their teeth knocked out and are no longer able to survive in the wild. Donations are highly recommended to provide materials to ensure their health and every other essential necessity that may come in mind. Another option is writing to the Indonesian authorities, since capturing and trading is most commonly found in that region, to demand that they stop the illegal actions immediately and that they are disrupting their natural instincts and natural environment by keeping them in captivity (it leads to a higher mortality rate).
Many petitions can be found on the website, so signing to stop trading these primates since it leads to death is taking a huge step into conversing these animals. Every signature counts and you ARE making a difference to the lives of many slow lorises around the world, even to ones that aren’t even born because the illegal actions may be prohibited and the animals can come to life in a world where no such methods is no longer acceptable.
Becoming an advocate for helping slow lorises is preventing the cruelty of taking these wild animals out of it’s natural habitat. Your contribution, whether big and small, is helping the protection of the slow lorises. Conservation education activities are being held in countries where slow lorises are being extinct. These operations may be recorded and uploaded in websites for other minds to watch and be instructed of their dying population. It may even be shown in new channels which gives a broader range of audience to be alerted of this awareness.
Another supporting system is working in fields where wild and reintroduced slow lorises resides. Guaranteeing that theres enough space and trees and an abundance of food for these animals is a huge step into saving the Bengal Slow loris as well as its other kinds of species. It is also crucial that poachers and other life threatening obstacle may not trespass and that enforcing laws and punishment will be made if anybody fails to obey the rules.
Also, a great way of spreading awareness is telling your friends and family and posting information on socializing websites like facebook, livejournal tumblr, and many more. This way you get different ranges of people and that the information can be passed down to their friends and family creating a long cycle of awareness. Students are able to study for Masters and PhD degrees to carry out important studies of the Bengal Slow loris with scholarship and be the future generations of biologists and environmentalists that we currently have today.
Another organization called The Little Fireface Project (nameds after the Sundanese word for loris) has a goal to save these wonderful animals from becoming extinct by educating themselves about their ecology and by attaining this information they teach it to educate their local people and law enforcement officers, which always leads to empathy and empowerment whereby people in other countries where lorises are being traded and captured as household pets will want to save them for themselves.
This whole process is done through learning, media, workshops, and classroom programs where guest speakers come in and spread the awareness through the young minds of curious students. Their education reaches out to potential purchasers of loris pets to prevent them from buying them from illegal shops and to boycott instead. Just keep in mind, for each animal bought, the next wild loris will be captured or even worse, a mother will be killed and her infant will be taken away to be sold as a pet.
These poor animals kept in captivity do not have the choice of place and campions they are highly required for a satisfactory lifestyle and that their senses are much sensitive and finer than from a human. (videos of them in bright light is really harmful to their eyes! ) Any kind of support is needed to save these animals. Supporting conservation education activities near slow loris habitats is an efficient way to conserve their habitat and to teach the harmful cruelty ways that these animals suffer from.
Providing important funds for field work and further research will create a huge support, because money is much needed to ensure that these animals will be safe and to learn more about ways to help and increase their low population. It may even lead to them not being on the endangered list anymore. Helping students to be able to study for Masters and PhD degrees to carry out these important studies is an enormous dedication for future bright minds and that they may come up with answers to save these primates from dying out.
If you spot a loris during working in the fields, bringing them to professionals in this business is helping them in their project of conserving the Bengal Slow Loris. If only found for a few hours, it will be immediately released into the wild, going back to where it came from. Socialization with your local people and education is highly important in not just this project but in every conservation project. It is important that the people start caring for their wildlife and can one day manage the conservation of their natural environmental habitat themselves.
In a recent study, Little Fire Face organized a presentation for the village people residing in Cipaganti to inform them about the lorises and the threats it is currently facing as well as their project to save them. They presented a video of one of their people looking for lorises in the gardens of the village and by showing their audience the film they hoped to make them proud and foster their wish to save the precious primate from extinction.
Before releasing the animal into the wild, there are some consideration to be thought of before reintroduction. Rearing conditions necessary to ensure the development of physical and other abilities needed for survival in the wild. Another factor is age-related changes of adaptability of captive-bred animals to unfamiliar conditions in the wild. It is also highly necessary for health to be checked before reintroduction to avoid spreading of infectious diseases from captive facilities into wild populations.
In response to the high levels of trade in the loris species, the Bengal slow loris was transferred in 2007 from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix II, where commercial trade is permitted, to Appendix I, making all international trade in this species illegal. In addition to this international protection, the Bengal slow loris is protected by national law in the countries in which it occurs, although enforcement is lacking in many regions.
The same also applies of Bengal slow loris habitat, which, despite having national reservation or conservation area status throughout much of this species’ range, is still being degraded by illegal logging activities. A scarce number of data and a growing belief that there was only a single species of slow loris has meant that, in the past, population assessments may have significantly overestimated the Bengal slow loris population. Now classed as a separate species, and with newer recent surveys indicating that in some regions that the Bengal Slow Loris severely threatened, it has been classified as ‘vulnerable’ according to the IUCN.
This should hopefully promote increased efforts to monitor and understand the Bengal slow loris in the wild and, in turn, encourage efforts to protect and conserve the primate from extinction. A week dedicated to these primates called Loris Awareness Week starts at the 16th of September and this year was the first to have it produced. It is the first international week dedicated to the conservation of the Asian lorises and to increase the awareness about the rare and stupendous group of primates.
In essence, the Bengal Slow Loris as well as the other species of the loris need all the support it needs to enforce laws that prohibits them from being hunted for traditional uses and being captured as pets with cruel harmful procedures into transforming them into “house pets”. Conserving their habitat is a must, especially on trees since they rely so heavily on them. Any kind of support counts and making a difference will open a path for a brighter and better future for these animals. For losing these primates from the world will be a huge saddening event to take upon this Earth and never seeing those big shiny eyes ever again.
Courtney from Study Moose
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