This endearing slow loris lives up to the name by showing little desire to rush things when it is finally returned to the forests of its forebears.
The Critically Endanganged Javan slow loris is one 15 of the small, nocturnal primates beginning the journey back home after being rescued from the world’s most callous pet trade.
Those huge eyes and soft, cuddly coat have made the loris a must have pet in the Far East, with individuals selling for £1,200 – but at an awful cost to each animal as well as the conservation of their kind.
Online images of lorises looking as if they are revelling in having their bodies tickled only fuel the demand for the animals to be snatched from the wild and sold on the black market.
Yet for the loris, capture means having its teeth removed by pliers without anaesthetic to stop them biting potential owners and also being fed human treats that leave them badly malnourished.
Even putting their hands up as if they are enjoying have their bodies stroked is an instinctive reaction brought about by sheer terror, an attempt to reach venomous gland they use to defend themselves
All eight slow loris species are vulnerable to extinction in their native Far East haunts, although it is the Critically Endangered Javan species that is gripping on the tightest for survival, with numbers crashing by 80 per cent in recent decades.
Today, 15 of the animals, each weighing little more than a pound, are being given a new chance after being rescued by Indonesian police and rehabilitated by a British-based charity.
These endearing images show the efforts made by International Animal Rescue to repatriate the lorises after they were seized by the authorities two years ago during operations against the illegal pet trade in Bandung and Tasikmalaya, West Java.
Since then, the five males and ten females have been under undergoing treatment and rehabilitation at the IAR Primate Centre in Bogor, where they have been through quarantine, health and behaviour monitoring as well as a feed enrichment programme to ensure they were ready for the next stage of their journey back to the forests.
This week the 15 animals were ferried in convoy to West Java’s Mount Sawal Protected Forest where they will spend between two and four weeks adjusting in a habituation cage before venturing back into the wild.
It is a costly process, with habitat assessment and post-release monitoring using radio-fitted collars for at least six months seen essential to ensure their survival.
Wendi Prameswari, animal care manager at the IAR centre, said: “The condition of slow lorises that have been victims of the illegal pet trade is generally very poor. They are stressed and malnourished after being stowed away in dirty, confined spaces and transported over long distances in airless containers with no access to food or water.”
Since 2104 as many as 39 lorises have been surrendered to Indonesia’s conservation authorities and undergone rehabilitation at the IAR centre.
IAT chief executive Alan Knight OBE said: “The release of these 15 individuals is a real cause for celebration and congratulations are due to everyone involved.
“It is the culmination of two years’ intensive treatment and care in order to return these Critically Endangered primates to their natural habitat, in a place where they will be far from human settlements and free from further harm.”