The Kukang Rescue Program
Kukang is the Indonesian name for the protected prosimian, slow loris, Nycticebus coucang.
The aim of the program is to protect this species in Indonesia, with a focus on the northern Sumatra province, where this species occurs naturally. These protected and endangered prosimians are threatened the most by illegal trade, while being sold mainly as domestic "pets". The Kukang Rescue program is managed by a group of Czechs in Indonesia together with Indonesians.
Aims and goals of the program
The program aims at reduction of the illegal trade in the protected and endangered greater slow lorises in the North Sumatra region by cooperation with Indonesian authorities, by enabling an effective enforcement of current laws and by educational activities.
The Kukang Rescue program has four main objectives:
1. Cooperation with local government agencies to enforce laws protecting slow lorises.
2. Operation of a rescue and rehabilitation centre for confiscated slow lorises.
3. Raising awareness about the illegal trade in animals and protect slow lorises.
4. Building an Indonesian team, which will implement most of the conservation activities
associated with slow lorises.
Team members in Indonesia are trying to minimize the physical and psychological suffering of individuals in the absolutely unsuitable conditions at animal markets. The program shall hinder activities of hunters and smugglers freely selling slow loris; raise awareness about slow loris protection among the general public; and ensure an appropriate rehabilitation for animals in order to successfully return these prosimians back into the wild.
Working in Sumatra
In 2015 the Czech-Indonesian team in Sumatra completed the first part of the rescue and rehabilitation centre, which is now ready to welcome the first slow loris confiscated from black market. Construction of such a place was the first, vital goal of the program, since there has not been such facility available across the entirety of Sumatra untill now, which is one of the reasons why seizures of slow lorises occur only very rarely and as a saying goes, "where there is no accuser, there is no judge". This is now changing and slow lorises will be confiscated from dealers and smugglers but also private breeders by the Indonesian authorities and police in collaboration with team members of the Kukang Rescue Program.
Another task of the Czech-Indonesian team is an exploration of the illegal trade with slow lorises and raising the awareness among the local population who do buy slow lorises. Currently, there are awareness raising activities targeted at schools and local farmers going on. The goal of the education is to show that wild animals are not pets.
In periodic reports, you can read more about our work in Sumatra here.
Illegal trade in animals in Indonesia
Illegal trade in animals is a big problem in Indonesia. Targeted deforestation, mainly due to oil palm, opens remote and previously inaccessible forest areas from which the last remnants of the populations of wild animals disappear under the hands of poachers. Most of the illegal trade takes place "behind closed doors"; remembering that reported seizures may represent as little as 10% of the total illegal trade (INTERPOL, ‘rule of thumb‘) we gain an insight into the impact this may have on the survival
of these fascinating animals that still inhabit tropical rainforests around the world.
To get an idea, here are few examples from the recent past:
15/07/2015 "Poachers have more rare turtles on the truck, than scientists even thought that there
are in the wild" - the seizure of 4,000 critically endangered Philippine turtles exceeds by 1000 the number of individuals that biologists have estimated that survives in wild.
28/04/2015 "Five tons of frozen pangolins, 77 kg of pangolin scales and 96 alive pangolins were seized in Medan, Sumatra" - package containing critically endangered pangolins and their body parts were intended for Chinese trade with traditional medicine and its estimated value climbed to 1.8 million US dollars.
30/11/2013 “238 slow lorises were seized on the way from Sumatra to Java animal market"- this massive consignment of slow lorises in a critical state of health proves that these protected and endangered creatures are still one of the most sold primates in Indonesia.
One of the main reasons, why this illegal trade in animals is growing, is the insufficient enforcement
of laws to protect animals. The aforementioned slow lorises and enforcement of laws to protect animals is an area on which we focus in The Kukang Rescue Program.
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