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Help Save Phuket's Abused Slow Lorises

Help Save Phuket's Abused Slow Lorises

Friday, September 20, 2013
PHUKET: A loris rescue centre is on the way for Phuket to save the cute creatures still being abused each night on Bangla.

It's Loris Awareness Week so the organisers seeking to set up the centre are asking cash donations from people who want the touting of the animals on Patong's best-known tourist street stopped.

Primatologist Petra Osterberg, a long term returning volunteer at the Phuket Gibbon Project rehabilitation centre, says: ''I am now collaborating with the Thai registered Love Wildlife Foundation on the set up of a slow loris rescue project.

''We are having promising negotiations with the Thai Department of National Parks and are now at the stage where we need to secure some funding.''

An online fundraising campaign will raise some much needed money to get properly started, she says.

A Phuket centre has been rescuing and rehabilitating gibbons for 20 years now and during the past 10 years has successfully managed to re-establish a small wild breeding population of gibbons in Khao Phraw Thaew forest - the last sizable rainforest on Phuket.

Returning the lorises to the wild could be much more difficult, and perhaps inapprorpiate. But they certainly need saving.

''Many of these lorises may be non-native to Phuket or to the south of Thailand. Lorises are specialist feeders and they have large territories in the wild which they may fight until death to defend.

''It is often unethical to release captive lorises back to the wild as the likelihood of them dying after release is over 90 percent.

''Your contribution can help us get slow lorises off the tourist streets of Phuket where they are being exploited for holiday snap-shots and it can help us educate more tourists about the devasting illegal animal trade,'' says the donations page at


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Hi Ms Osterberg, what are your plans if they cannot be released locally into the wild. Can they be transported to the most likely areas they can survive in other parts of Thailand?

Posted by Fiesty Farang on September 20, 2013 14:41


To Miss Petra: Once you are established, please post a contact number. Over many years I have seen countless readers who are prepared to call you every time they see one of these sad creatures in Soi Bangla or elsewhere. Please include the other unfortunate creatures such as pythons & iguanas in your rescue effort.

Posted by Logic on September 20, 2013 16:15


Every time I report these creatures to the Police, they literally do nothing. No one with power cares.
The general attitude to animals in Thailand is poor at the best of time.

If you do something illegal here, all you get is a 500 Baht fine. What's the point?

Criminal Action and Laws that protect ALL animals need to be made in BKK and Enforced

Posted by Tbs on September 20, 2013 17:42


Every time ( day or night ) I walk down Bangla there are between 1 and 5 touts offering Lorises - the only problem is that if you arrest them the next day another group appear and so the saga continues. We need to catch "Mr Big" behind the touts who are generally poor and uneducated people - we need the ringleader arrested to stop the trade

Posted by Benjamin on September 20, 2013 22:54


@ Ms Petra, once the little guys are off the street, you cant send them back to the wild, as they have already had their little teeth broken off, filled away or wrenched out of their tiny jaws. This renders them incapable of eating anything solid, so they are reduced to a liquid fruit diet for life. As for fighting to defend a territory, what do they do, box each other?

Posted by DuncanB on September 20, 2013 23:16


Duncan B, I think she wants to save future animals from the same fate, the police must be made to take action.

Posted by coxo on September 21, 2013 07:01


Sorry guys, I hate to break it to you. I saw uniformed police run into a group of touts last night. They didn't budge 1 inch. In fact, 1 tout just sat there and smiled at the cops. Then the cops went over and waii'd the "Soi Boss". Sorry, you have a better chance of banning Gogos and Bargirls. I can promise you the 'boss' isn't going to be arrested for anything.

Posted by rc on September 21, 2013 11:23


Please release into the wild.

Posted by Anonymous on September 21, 2013 17:41


Strange that Ms Osterberg is not aware of the loris rescue center in Petchburi that has rescued and released several lorises from Phuket over the last years. The center run by the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand has a fully equipped wildlife hospital and their mobile clinic has assisted the Phuket wildlife officials and police several times with confiscation and medical treatment.

The wildlife rescue center can be contacted by phone on 032-458135 and their website is for more information. They rescue on average 60-70 lorises a year, of which 95% gets released back to the wild. Some cannot go back to the wild as they are foreign species or have their teeth removed.

Posted by John Scargill on September 22, 2013 08:57

Editor Comment:

Unusual telephone number . . .


Our hope is to help the individual animals, and at the same time to raise awareness amongst tourists and decrease the demand for this trade. Once taken from the wild as babies and mutilated for the trade, the majority of the photo prop lorises are not suitable for release. Our project will combine education, research and animal welfare. The long-term goal of our loris rescue project is of course reintroduction for suitable candiadates, but this is only legally conducted if run according to IUCN standards and in negotiating taxonomy of the species as well as carrying capacity of the release habitat. The most important aspect of reintroduction is post-release monitoring, and with lorises,this has to be done with radio-tracking. Around 90% of animals die after release, even within carefully conducted reintroduction programs in Vietnam and Indonesia. The majority of lorises used in Patong are non-native to Phuket and for that matter to Petchabury. Lorises have large wild territories and will fight until death to defend these. There is currently no other species specific rescue and rehabilitation center for slow lorises in Thailand. By releasing a large number of rescued lorises to the wild, as is currently practised by some centres, the animals go to certain death and the act may also pose problems for any native, wild, lorises potentially already living witin the area. There is a huge need for more education about lorises: their taxononomy, captive care and reintroduction techniques to be made available to various centres and bodies within Thailand. Our working group consists of world leading loris experts and primatologists - our aim is to achieve the best possible outcome for all animals; those still in the wild, those within the trade and those that have already been rescued.

Posted by Petra Osterberg on October 1, 2013 12:32


Mrs Osterberg, why are you stating that there are currently no rescue centers for lorises in Thailand? You have been in touch with me in the past on this issue and you have seen the facilities at Petchburi, including the wildlife hospital where over 50 lorises a year are treated and rehabilitated. You further state that the lorises found are not from Phuket (and you are right) however 95% of the lorises found with the touts on Phuket are of the EXACT subspecies of the Tennasserim (indeed Petchburi) so at the right place here for release.

There are several rescue facilities in Thailand for lorises, some run by NGO's and some by the government. I personally do not see the need for more at the moment, but it would be a great idea to support the government center in Phang-gna, they have a very tight budget unfortunately.

Edwin Wiek
Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Posted by Edwin Wiek on October 2, 2013 10:53

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