Illeagal pet trade threatens tiny primate
Researchers in the Malaysian state of Sabah recently radio-collared a Bornean slow loris (Nycticebus menagensis) in order to study the little known species. A small, but big-eyed, primates slow loris spend the days sleeping and the night tracking prey, such as insects and lizards, with its large flashlight-like eyes. The study is being led by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC).
Classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, the Bornean slow loris is thought to be rare throughout its range, which extends to several islands beyond Borneo. The primate is threatened, like many species in the area, by deforestation. However the species is also a target of the illegal pet trade.
"Although slow lorises are protected by law from international and commercial trade, the greatest growing threat to slow lorises is the illegal pet trade, being the second most common primate species owned as pets in Asia, next to macaques," explained Dr Laurentius Ambu, Director of the Sabah Wildlife Department, in a press release. "They have also become an important species for medicinal and ornamental trade. Lorises face extremely high mortality rates in markets and transport of them, due to starvation, dehydration and infections from dental health injuries, as their teeth are removed to increase their sales," added Ambu.