Slow Loris spared euthanasia by UK conservationist group

The slow loris illegally trafficked into the Maldives has been spared euthanasia after Monkey World – a center for abused and neglected primates – offered to re-home the animal at their sanctuary in Dorset, England.

“This has never been done before, to move endangered species overseas from the Maldives. This has been an amazing, unprecedented international effort,” Dr Alison Cronin, Director of Monkey World told the press in Malé today (August 13).

The small primate, which is an Appendix I listed species of CITES – giving it the highest level of protection in international trade of wildlife – was discovered during a police raid in the capital in January.

Shazra Shihab from the Ministry of Environment and Energy explained that the government had been trying to rehome the animal ever since, but had struggled due to issues relating to costs, transportation, and the loris’s unknown country of origin.

“However, with tireless dedication from one party, and cooperation from all relevant government organisations of both countries, as well as dedication from other involved parties on both sides, we have now found a home for the slow loris,” she added.

“I first heard that the Bengal Loris had been confiscated in the Maldives by colleagues who work in Asia rescuing wildlife,” Dr Cronin told Minivan News.

The animal will now be taken back to the UK and paired with another of its species, she explained.

“We believe this to be a male Loris, and we have a home for it in England with a female Loris, so he will have a wife,” Dr Cronin added.

“We’ve been doing this work around the world for more than 25 years and I was impressed, heart-warmed and felt that everybody here deserved support and encouragement for what they’ve done.”

Echoing Dr Cronin’s sentiments, Gabriella Tamási from the International Airline Group IAG Cargo remarked, “this is totally unprecedented, what we have done to transport the slow loris, as currently our travel operations in the Maldives are not approved for live animal transport.”

Illegal slow loris trade

The illegal Loris pet trade boomed after video clips which depict the animals as a cute and docile pets went viral. However, the video craze has obscured the trauma and suffering that the animals endure at the hands of illegal traffickers.

Far from its cuddly depiction, the Loris secretes toxins on its wrists which – when combined with their saliva – deliver a toxic and very harmful bite, Dr Cronin explained.

“Most commonly what happens is they get grabbed and somebody forces their mouth open, and they take large fingernail clippers and simply cut the animals teeth off at the gum line.”

“It’s a very bloody, painful and horrible process, leaving the animal crippled,” revealed Dr Cronin.

According to Dr Cronin, the Bengal slow loris in the Maldives has not been checked over yet, as she prefers to minimise the stress for the animal during the transportation process.

“The last thing it needs is more stress,” she stated, “we’ll wait until we get it back to Monkey World.”

Dr Cronin also revealed plans to check the slow loris’ DNA once back in the UK, to find out the animal’s country of origin, which may then present the possibility to a return to the wild.

“Everybody in the Maldives can feel pleased and proud of both the law enforcement and the government ministry for bothering to stick with this for so long,“ Dr Cronin concluded.


Indonesian NGO offers to rescue slow loris from euthanasia

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.


Maldivian student killed in Afghan blast

A Maldivian student, Amir Moosa, 31 from G.A Dhaandhoo was recently killed in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, the Island council has said today.

President of the Council Shuaib Abdulla said a family member of the deceased had reported his death in an Afghanistan bomb blast, although the incident is yet to be officially reported to the Council by his immediate family.

Shuaib said Amir has been studying in Pakistan for the past six years and many locals believe he was involved with Jihadi operations there. “According to a family members, when he calls home he would talk about Jihad and Independence of Palestine” Shuaib said.

The deceased’s sister told Sun Online that Amir had been killed two months ago, though the family themselves only received the news yesterday (December 14). She also denied that Amir held any extremist views.

However, local news website CNM quoted Amir’s mother as saying that he was living in Pakistan with his wife and four children (who are still in Pakistan) for higher education.

Amir’s family confirmed to CNM that he was visiting Afghanistan when the blast killed him. Maldives Police Service have not yet received any such reports.

Foreign Ministry officials were not available for comment at the time of press.

Maldives has been hit by a wave of religious extremism in the past few years. In September 2007 a home made IED was set off at popular tourist attraction in capital Male’, injuring 12 tourists.

Common threats against voices critical of radical Islamism were actualized with a brutal attempt on a journalist’s life in 2012. Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed came just millimetres from death when assailants he would later allege to be Islamists slashed his throat just yards from his home.

This incident happened just a few months after a mob of religious extremists destroyed priceless Buddhist statues in the National Museum.

In early 2010, then-Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik expressed concern about young Maldivians being recruited by militant groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan to wage ‘jihad’, a claim reiterated by top level officials including former President Mohamed Nasheed.


Comment: Blame game hardly solves problems

Lance Corporal Adam Halym of Maldives Police Service was on his way to start a new shift, leaving his baby daughter and loving wife at home, when he was mercilessly knifed and murdered in a dark alley leading to Kaashidhoo Police Station. He never returned home.

I strongly condemn the heinous crime of killing an officer of the law and as well the eight innocent people, whose blood was spilled before him. Thoughts, prayers and well wishes are with all those victims family at time of this great tragedy.

While the families and public is grappling with the aftermath of this ongoing carnage, much more appalling than the gruesome murder of the police officer is the notorious blame game started by the politicians. It took one or two hours tops before prominent political figures, most of them holding key portfolios in current government, to sinisterly twist the tragedy and manipulate in ways that it advantageous to their own political stand or disadvantageous to their political opponents. The former president Mohamed Nasheed and his party MDP  was on the receiving end of much of the accusations.

On twitter Ahmed Mahloof, MP for Galolhu Dhekunu Constituency, was amongst the first to break the news by posting a tweet saying “Innaalillahi vainna ilaihi raajioon” (a Quranic verse Muslims recite upon hearing the news of someone’s death) and ” mikamuge zinmaa seedha MDP nagan jeheyne”(MDP should directly take the responsibility of this)” along with a hyperlink to the news story on the Haveeru website.

Among many other tweets that followed, government-aligned Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Mahloof emphatically blamed Nasheed and the MDP. One tweet when translated reads, “What we are seeing is the democracy Nasheedh and MDP wanted to bring to this country” while the another tweet reads: “We are seeing the result of Nasheed and MDP calling to attack police and military officers non stop.”

One hour into Mahloof’s tweets President Waheed himself posted a tweet saying “Strongly condemn the killing of a policeman while on duty. Enough of hate mongering against officers of the Law.”

In a subsequent tweet  an hour later the president emoted: “No excuses to kill anyone let alone policemen on duty. Shame on cowards hiding behind anonymity and inciting violence.” While he does not elobarate on who the “anonymous” is,  his counterparts have clarified it well with their own facts: Nasheed and MDP killed LCPL Adam Halym.

Here is what the Minister of Home Affairs said:

Not just that, while the President, his ministers, and other key government officials were all commotional on twitter, Dr Ibrahim Didi, Qasim Ibrahim and Abdullah Jabir – belonging to Jumhoree Party of Dr Waheed’s unity government – were doing their fair share of the blame game on VTV during late hours of last night.  They reiterated the crux of the above mentioned tweets, blaming Nasheed and his party.

I am taken aback by the heedless audacity of especially government officials to create a diversion from the real issue, by using the oldest tactic in the book: the blame game. Every second spent accusing Nasheed and the MDP is a second wasted by the current government to address the cause of the  issue. At a time when the government is expected to take proactive and immediate measure to ensure the safety and security of the people of Maldives they are engrossed in politically assassinating their opposition party and its presidential candidate for the murder of LCP Adam Halym.

In the very press statement from police about the brutal murder of Adam Halym it was clearly stated that a suspect was brought under custody. The police already had a lead. Local media concurrently identified the killer as Mohamed Samah from the same island.

Only hours later more details were reported on local media shedding light on the attack and the killer: Samah has a criminal record for aggravated assault among other crimes and was also released  from police detention to house confinement the previous day.

The police have not revealed that Nasheed, the MDP or for that matter any political party had a role in the murder of Adam Halym: but from the few reports surfacing in the media, we can draw a conclusion that it was indeed a a preventable crime carried out by a dangerous criminal who found his murderous opportunity through a loophole in the very system that is intended to keep his like at bay.

But these facts did not get in the way of the vociferous accusations echoed by the self declared political pundits, nor did it stop MDP from making counterblasts over social networks, spreading picture of the suspected killer alleging that he was in fact from the government-aligned PPM’s members.

One of the most noticeable remarks was made on Facebook by former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed:

While Dr Shaheed has rightly indicated to what really lead to the murder of LCPL Adam Halym, it would be unfair not to say he has again shot the blame at Home Minister. Doesn’t only a judge have the jurisdiction to release a criminal from police custody to house arrest? So why blame the Home Minister who has no direct authority under the current legal framework to release a criminal from police custody to house arrest?

Why are not we questioning which court or judge released Samah, only to kill a police officer in less than 24 hours?  Has the judiciary failed us again and this time we had  to pay with the life of an officer of the law? If it wasn’t a judge, who gave the authority to police to move the criminal?

These are fundamental questions that lurks around the murder of Adam Halym that neeed to be answered by the police, before we engross ourselves in this “you killed him” game, helping no one except fuelling the opportunistic politicians ready to feed on humanity when it suits them.

At difficult times like this, we humans might blindly seek solace in band aid solutions like the death penalty. Implementing dealth penalty right now in Maldives would only be a coping mechanism that would would provide a temporary relief to the community but leave the root cause of the problem untouched.

It was just few days ago that the whole nation came to a standstill over the murder of lawyer Najeeb. Najeeb’s murderer has said in court that he was inebriated at the time of killing.

Afterwards when his faculties were back to normal and realised what he had done, he cried  in regret.  Moving onto LCPL Adam Halym’s murder, what are the chances Samah too was intoxicated during the murder? More importantly would implementing death penalty prevent an angry, intoxicated person from murdering someone? Since drugs have become the root cause of all mischief in Maldives, and since the punishment under Islam for spreading mischief on Earth is capital punishment, isn’t it more just and appropriate to sentence drug lords to death?

Half of the youth population are enslaved to these substances marketed by these “untouchable” drug lords. They have destroyed lives of thousands of youth and their families. More will follow if we do not stop the menace and provide better opportunities for the younger generation.

Samah found his chance to kill LCPL Adam Halym through a loophole in the judiciary. Therefore when God has specifically prescribed in Quran “ Take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law” how can we entrust the current judiciary, with its major loopholes, to rule “by way of justice and law”? For God’s sake, prerequisites laws to implement the death penalty do not even exist in Maldives as of yet and who knows when they will be passed. Let’s be realistic.

We know that Islam stipulates strict conditions that prevent arbitrary administration of any penalty, no matter how mild it is. The Prophet Mohamed has instructed us to“Avert punishments if suspicions arise”. According to Dr Hamdy Murad, an Islamic thinker and Professor of Sharia at Al-Balqa Applied University, “Suspicion means that for any offence that cannot proved 100 percent, so to speak, punishments should be averted.”

In the case of Murrath and Hana, the couple who murdered lawyer Najeeb who were sentenced to death with a fortnight, isn’t there room for suspicion? Did no one hear the girl say she did not kill him and was sleeping while her boyfriend did it?

Besides, should we not question why a convicted criminal like Murrath – who was suppose to be in jail – and Samaah, a criminal with a record of multiple assaults – was out of the streets instead of confinement?

In the wake of such tragic events, it is tempting to blame someone for the pain simply because it absolves the person from shouldering any responsibility. But, one must not forget the most effective tool we can utilise for hate mongering is these slanderous accusations. It never yields solution or heals the scars, but fuels more hatred and divisions in the community.

More than ever, we as a nation need to skip this blame game and find solutions to address the real issues that have jeopardised the very fundamental human right our people have: the right to life.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]