The plight of an illegally trafficked slow loris has attracted international attention with the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) offering to re-home the animal and a petition being launched to rescue it from euthanasia.
“We are much willing to repatriate this endangered primate back to Indonesia,” stated Femke Den Haas, founder of the Slow Loris Rehabilitation Centre has told the Ministry of Environment.
“We oppose the plan to euthanise. The loris should provided specialised veterinary care and high animal welfare standards.”
However, the reply from the government – also obtained by Minivan News – outlined a number of difficulties that needed to be overcome before they could proceed.
“If you could find a flight or any other mode of legal transportation, could bear the expenses and if Indonesia will allow the slow lori [sic] to be imported into the country in spite of it not fitting OIE standard, we will be able to move forward,” an official from the ministry told Femke.
The slow loris – which is currently being held at Dhoonidhoo police custodial centre – was discovered by police during a drugs raid in the capital Malé, along with more than MVR300,000 in cash.
Following the discovery, the Ministry of Environment has faced a number of hurdles in finding a sanctuary for the primate, leaving it facing the decision to destroy the endangered animal.
“After running out of other options, the ministry sees euthanasia as the only option available,” said Assistant Director for the Environment Department Ilham Atho Mohamed last week.
“This decision does not affect the wild population or the conservation potential of the species. It will also help prevent further illegal trade of such species and prevent the specimen from re-entering illegal trade,” she contended.
An offer of sanctuary
Associates of the Slow Loris Rehabillitation Centre contacted the government after reading last week’s article in Minivan News (April 10).
In an email sent to the Ministry of Environment on April 11, Femke offered JAAN’s services, and expressed a firm interest in taking care of the animal.
“We are much willing to repatriate this endangered primate back to Indonesia. For this, we would need one letter of request for repatriation from your environment ministry,” she wrote.
Despite the offer, the government’s reply listed a number of reasons that were currently obstructing the animal’s rescue.
“When they request for a repatriate letter, the slow lori found in Maldives is a Bengal Slow Lori whose origin is in a wide range of countries but not in Indonesia,” Assistant Director for the Environment Department Ilham Atho Mohamed told Minivan News today.
“Therefore, such a letter cannot be issued to be transferred to Indonesia,” although Ilham expressed hope such issues could soon be resolved.
One of the other difficulties cited was the lack of knowledge of the animal’s history and the absence of medical records.
“The animal does not fit OIE standards,” said a ministry official. “We do not know the age or country of origin of the Slow Lori as it was confiscated during a police operation, and the accused illegal traders chose their right to stay silent on this issue.”
In addition, the expense of transporting the slow loris was a major factor in deciding to contemplate euthanasia.
“Maldives cannot bear any expense of transporting it,” read the email sent to Femke.
In spite of the protests from the government, Femke insists that there are ways to overcome the difficulties outlined by the government.
“I have repatriated many confiscated animals back to Indonesia and always the costs we made were shared. The airlines normally allow the transport to happen for free. It’s good for their publicity,” she stated.
“If the Maldives is a member of CITES it should follow its regulations. If they can’t care for the loris the loris should at least be handed over to a specialised rescue – rehab center , the closest nearby.”
Some Maldivians and members of the international community have expressed their support to rehabilitate the animal in a petition on Avaaz.
The petition – started Maldivian resident called Nora on April 12 – has reached over 300 signatures in just one day.