When Police Raided This Indonesian Man’s Home, They Seized 2 White Boxes Of Living, Breathing Cargo

When cops raided an Indonesian guy’s home, they suspected that he was involved in a cruel, illegal trade. And after finding two unassuming plastic boxes, their worst fears were confirmed. There, huddled in makeshift cages, were some of the planet’s most endangered creatures.

In January 2017, police in Indonesia made an arrest in the town of Majalengka. Law enforcement officers detained the suspect after his online activity raised suspicions. The West Java native was allegedly using the internet to sell an illegal product.

Yet not only did authorities suspect that the trader was selling contraband, but they also worried that lives hung in the balance. So, with no time to lose, police planned a raid. And when cops arrived at the home, what they discovered was truly shocking.

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There, in two plastic mesh boxes, was exactly what the cops feared they would find. Luckily, however, they had arrived just in time; they caught the trader in the act of selling his loot and arrested him on the spot. As for the boxes, International Animal Rescue came to collect their contents.

Why? Well, because they contained eight critically endangered animals – seven females and one male. The creatures were Javan slow lorises, and all were clearly traumatized. Indeed, when police officers discovered the critters, they were cowering in fear. Moreover, the authorities noted that the animals had no water and only a tiny amount of food.

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The rescue actually came just one day after another major raid on a slow loris trader. In that instance, authorities identified an online trader through intelligence. And, as a result, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Indonesia confiscated 19 animals. It was thought that the alleged trader planned to sell the creatures via social media.

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Thankfully, International Animal Rescue Indonesia took in the animals. The slow lorises rescued included “sixteen adults and two juveniles: eight males, ten females and one new born,” announced head vet Wendi Prameswari on the organization’s website in January 2017.

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Sadly, the youngest slow loris died on the way to the shelter. And when medical experts checked the rest, they found that all were suffering from dehydration and some had eye infections.

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However, on the whole, the animals’ prospects looked promising. “The results of the medical health checks show that the animals are all in good body condition and their teeth hadn’t been damaged yet,” Prameswari said. “All individuals show very wild behaviors, which suggests that they have been recently caught and have not spent a long time in captivity.”

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So within two days, International Animal Rescue had acquired 25 adult slow lorises and two juveniles. All of them would need round-the-clock care and specialized medical attention to make a full recovery. However, these were the lucky ones.

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Thanks to their enormous eyes, little hands and seemingly cuddly demeanors, slow lorises have become desirable pets. As a result, hunters can make good money selling the nocturnal primates. In fact, thousands of them are stolen from the wild and illegally sold at markets or exported internationally.

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Though popular, slow lorises don’t make ideal pets. While they may look cute and cuddly, the animals actually possess a deadly venomous bite. So in order to make them sellable, traders often pull out the primates’ teeth.

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Worse, the practice is usually carried out under terrible conditions. Often the slow lorises become infected after the procedure or die from blood loss. The ones that survive, meanwhile, are stuffed into cramped shipping containers. And during transportation, between 30 and 90 percent of the surviving animals die.

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“Traders load the lorises together in small, cramped crates after poaching them from the wild, and this causes them wounds, stress, and sometimes serious medical problems that may even result in death,” explained Christine Rattel, a program advisor at International Animal Rescue. “For one slow loris that someone might illegally buy and keep as a pet, four more will have died in the process.”

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But the suffering for these animals frequently doesn’t end once they’re at home as pets. Often the surroundings are too bright and too small for the naturally curious, nocturnal creatures. Furthermore, in the wild lorises feast on a varied diet of fruits and insects. Usually owners can rarely replicate such nutrients. And as a result, many captive animals struggle with health problems like obesity, diabetes and malnutrition.

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To make matters worse, the Javan slow loris has been listed as critically endangered since 2013. Experts believe the species has declined by 80 percent in the last three decades. You see, aside from the illegal pet trade, lorises also face threats from habitat loss and fragmentation.

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To tackle the challenges slow lorises face, International Animal Rescue runs an educational campaign to teach people about the illegal wildlife trade. However, the rise of social media is making it easier for traffickers to slip through the cracks. “Tackling wildlife cybercrime has become a global issue endangering many species of wildlife,” explained Karmele Llano Sanchez, the program director of International Animal Rescue.

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Therefore, conservationists have high hopes that the two traders arrested in 2017 will be brought to justice. “We are sending a strong message to all online traders of wildlife,” Achmad Pribadi, the head of the sub directorate for the Protection and Security of Forests, warned. “Law enforcement does not tolerate such cases of illegal wildlife trade.”

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“Perpetrators can be prosecuted under Act No 5/1990, Article 21 of the ‘Natural Protection Law in Indonesia’ and receive up to five years in prison and a fine of 100 million Indonesian Rupiah ($7,400),” Pribadi added. “If we don’t take immediate action to combat the illegal trade of slow lorises, they might disappear within the next five years.”

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It is vital, then, that the lorises captured by International Animal Rescue in January 2017 make a full recovery. Thankfully, they are expected to get better. And when they do, the organization will release them into a protected forest where they will hopefully get their happily ever afters.

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