Lorises appear to be the preferred target of wildlife traffickers, turning up in markets around the South-East Asian region and in seizures—including the dozen found in a traveller’s suitcase at Suvarnabhumi International Airport a week ago. Authorities at Thailand’s largest and busiest airport found the lorises stuffed in cloth bags inside the suitcase of a Kuwait bound traveller, who was also carrying 11 pythons and one marmoset in her luggage.
Alert officers at the luggage-scanning counter of the airport noticed something odd about the x-ray images of the woman’s bag and found the animals when they opened it for examination. As a downside of their cute, wide-eyed appeal, slow lorises are in high demand as pets not only in Southeast Asia but globally. The trade is ongoing in spite of a worldwide ban on international commercial trade that has been in place since 2007. Despite strong legal protection in the countries where they occur naturally, and protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES), lorises are openly sold in many markets and on Internet pet forums, indicating weak enforcement and little fear of the law.
Thailand is not the only country in Southeast Asia where the illegal trade of slow lorises is a concern. Last month, TRAFFIC researchers observed 55 Slow Lorises for sale in two markets in Jakarta, Indonesia, including three Endangered Javan Slow Lorises. 13 were seen in Barito Market, and 42 more in Jati Negara market.
It has been estimated that from October 2011 to July this year, Thai authorities have rescued 12,332 wild animals from wildlife traffickers and arrested 13 people in connection with wildlife trade related offences. This includes tigers, pangolins, marmosets, snakes, turtles, bears, birds and primates.