Slow Loris in Cambodia
In Cambodia, many species are poached for use in Asian traditional medicine. This includes primates, like the Slow Loris. Demand from the pet trade and traditional Asian Medicine is driving slow loris to extinction.
Cambodia has two species of Slow Loris, the Bengal Slow Loris (Nycticebus bengalensis) and the Pygmy Slow Loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus). Both of these species are Endangered.
How are Slow Loris venomous?
Slow Loris are nocturnal primates who have a unique response to predators: they can release venom! How does this work? There are 2 steps: first they secrete noxious oil from glands under their armpits. Second, Slow Loris lick those glands. When combined with the oil, the saliva forms a venom. This venom has been known to induce Anaphylactic shock in humans, as one unfortunate researcher in Sarawak, Malaysia found out, according to this paper.
The authors expressed hopes that publication of such incidents would reduce the desirability of Lorises as pets. The demand from the illegal pet trade is just one of the threats to Loris species.
Keeping Lorises as pets could harm them – and you!
The pet Loris craze started online when videos, memes and images of pet slow lorises went viral. Their popularity fueled demand for lorises as pets. On top of driving capture of Loris from the wild, these videos encouraged harmful behavior towards them. A recent paper which reviewed 100 such videos found that all showed at least 1 condition known to be negative for lorises, indicating absence of the necessary freedom. The authors found that such videos undermine conservation efforts because viewers were more likely to “like” videos where a slow loris was kept in the light or displayed signs of stress.
Asian Medicine use is driving Slow Loris to extinction
In the Cardamoms Rainforest, poachers target the Slow Loris for the illegal wildlife trade, including to supply the traditional medicine trade. In Cambodia, Slow Loris is believed to treat a range of medical conditions, from leprosy to low fertility. For example, placing dried loris skin under the house is thought to increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. Such uses are unproven, and are a prescription for extinction.