By Nabilah Haris
An endangered primate has been rescued and released back into the wild at an undisclosed location by the 1stopbrunei Wildlife Club (1SB Wildlife) yesterday.
The slow loris was voluntarily handed over to the club’s members by an individual who had planned to sell the big-eyed primate, which is listed under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Appendix 1. Its CITES status indicates that the species is threatened with extinction and/or may be affected by trade. It also means that the international trade in the slow loris, one of only a very few poisonous mammals in the world and the only toxic primate, is prohibited. Under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, the slow loris is considered vulnerable.
In an interview with The Brunei Times, the founder of ISB Wildlife, Muhammad Shavez Cheema, said the club had encountered some difficulty persuading the individual to part with the primate.
However, another club member, Arefeh Ashtiani, stepped in and managed to persuade the individual to hand over the slow loris, which because of its cute appearance is targeted by the animal trade. She said she had simply explained why it was wrong to sell the endangered primate.
The club kept the slow loris for a day to ensure it was healthy and strong enough to be released back into the wild.
Muhammad Shavez said there is a ready market for the slow loris around the world, even though it is endangered, and that Brunei is no exception.
“It is very popular for the pet trade. I do not know if it has medicinal value for people here but its appearance and characteristics are a selling point for poachers here to make a quick dollar, maybe a few hundred dollars to say the least. The problem is that it is quite common to see them up for sale despite them being endangered.”
Muhammad Shavez said the club released the primate at a location recommended by researchers at Universiti Brunei Darussalam. He also said the Wildlife Division had been informed but that no response had yet been received.