Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Three new species of venomous primate identified; May help protect rare primate from illegal trades

Date:
December 14, 2012
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
A venomous primate with two tongues would seem safe from the pet trade, but the big-eyed, teddy-bear face of the slow loris (Nycticebus sp.) has made them a target for illegal pet poachers throughout the animal's range in southeastern Asia and nearby islands. Researchers recently identified three new species of slow loris. The primates had originally been grouped with another species.

One of the newly identified species of slow loris, Nycticebus kayan.
Credit: Ch'ien C Lee

A venomous primate with two tongues would seem safe from the pet trade, but the big-eyed, teddy-bear face of the slow loris (Nycticebus sp.) has made them a target for illegal pet poachers throughout the animal's range in southeastern Asia and nearby islands. A University of Missouri doctoral student and her colleagues recently identified three new species of slow loris. The primates had originally been grouped with another species. Dividing the species into four distinct classes means the risk of extinction is greater than previously believed for the animals but could help efforts to protect the unusual primate.

"Four separate species are harder to protect than one, since each species needs to maintain its population numbers and have sufficient forest habitat," said lead author Rachel Munds, MU doctoral student in anthropology in the College of Arts and Science. "Unfortunately, in addition to habitat loss to deforestation, there is a booming black market demand for the animals. They are sold as pets, used as props for tourist photos or dismembered for use in traditional Asian medicines."

According to Munds, slow lorises are not domesticated and are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. She contends that keeping the animals as pets is cruel and that domesticating them is not feasible.

"Even zoos have difficulty meeting their nutritional needs for certain insects, tree gums and nectars," said Munds. "Zoos rarely succeed in breeding them. Nearly all the primates in the pet trade are taken from the wild, breaking the bonds of the lorises' complex and poorly understood social structures. The teeth they use for their venomous bite are then torn out. Many of them die in the squalid conditions of pet markets. Once in the home, pet keepers don't provide the primates with the social, nutritional and habitat requirements they need to live comfortably. Pet keepers also want to play with the nocturnal animals during the day, disrupting their sleep patterns."

The newly identified species hail from the Indonesian island of Borneo. Munds and her colleagues observed that the original single species contained animals with significantly different body sizes, fur thickness, habitats and facial markings. Museum specimens, photographs and live animals helped primatologists parse out four species from the original one. Now instead of one animal listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, there may be four endangered or threatened species. This potential change in conservation status may serve to draw attention the plight of the primates and increase legal protections.

"YouTube videos of lorises being tickled, holding umbrellas or eating with forks have become wildly popular," said Anna Nekaris, study co-author, primatology professor at Oxford Brookes University and MU graduate. "CNN recently promoted loris videos as 'feel good' entertainment. In truth, the lorises gripping forks or umbrellas were simply desperate to hold something. The arboreal animals are adapted to spending their lives in trees constantly clutching branches. Pet keepers rarely provide enough climbing structures for them."

The pet trade isn't the only threat to loris survival. The animals also are used in Asian traditional medicines. The methods used to extract the medicines can be exceedingly violent, according to Nekaris, who also is director of the slow loris advocacy organization, Little Fireface Project. For example, in order to obtain tears of the big-eyed lorises, skewers are inserted into the animals' anuses and run through their bodies until they exit the mouth. The still-living animals are then roasted over a smoky fire and the tears that stream from their eyes are collected and used to supposedly treat eye diseases in humans.

A video about the illegal trade in slow lorises can be viewed here: Tickling Slow Loris -- The Truth (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF9-Dp3unTU).

"Taxonomy of the Bornean Slow Loris, with New Species Nycticebus Kayan," was published in the American Journal of Primatology. The paper described the physiological and habitat differences that justified dividing the three new species of slow loris (N. bancanus, N. borneanus and N. kayan) from the original species of slow loris N. menagensis.Susan Ford of Southern Illinois University also was co-author.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Munds, S. Ford, K.A.I. Nekaris. Taxonomy of the Bornean Slow Loris, with New Species Nycticbus Kayan (Priamtes Lorisdae). American Journal of Primatology, December 2012; DOI: 10.1002/22071

Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Three new species of venomous primate identified; May help protect rare primate from illegal trades." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213172310.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2012, December 14). Three new species of venomous primate identified; May help protect rare primate from illegal trades. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213172310.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Three new species of venomous primate identified; May help protect rare primate from illegal trades." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213172310.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

AP (Apr. 21, 2014) Breakfast is now being served with a side of sticker shock. The cost of morning staples like bacon, coffee and orange juice is on the rise because of global supply problems. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


New Species of Borneo's Enigmatic Primate Discovered: Kayan Loris Has a Toxic Bite

Dec. 13, 2012 Scientists studying the elusive nocturnal primate the slow loris in the jungles of Borneo have discovered an entirely new species -- the Kayan loris. The team's analysis of the primate's ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins