Welcome to an installment of a new series from the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge in which we will be sharing updates from their 16 Prize Winners who are working to combat wildlife crime around the globe.
Slow lorises are adorable, which is why many of them are illegally captured for the pet trade. Challenge Prize Winner YIARI is developing a DNA data bank that reveals the origin and species of smuggled slow lorises, helping authorities map illegal trade and poaching hotspots and prosecute criminals.
The Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge sources innovative solutions to combat illegal wildlife trade that threatens communities, rule of law, and security, as well as iconic wildlife species around the world. These crimes include the sale of protected wild animals for the pet trade. Slow lorises, with their adorable faces and soft fur, are heavily trafficked in Indonesia. Like other wild animals, however, they do not make good pets. In fact, slow lorises are the world’s only venomous primate. Traffickers will stuff many animals in small cages and clip their teeth to keep them from biting, which can result in death due to blood loss and infections. The Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus) is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and is considered one of the most endangered primate species in the world due mainly to habitat loss and the illegal wildlife trade.
Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge Prize Winner Karmele Llano Sanchez, Program Director for Yayasan International Animal Rescue Indonesia (YIARI) and her team actively monitor the trade of slow lorises. YIARI provides care for slow lorises seized by authorities, and whenever possible, rehabilitates them for reintroduction into the wild. The YIARI team collects genetic samples while doing routine medical check-ups on the slow lorises in its care, then analyze the samples. YIARI’s goal is to create a genetic database of slow lorises, so that “in the future we can identify the origins of all confiscated lorises,” Karmele says. That would allow YIARI and its partners to more precisely focus their efforts on poaching hotspots.
All of the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge Prize Winners, including YIARI, are looking for partners, organizations, individuals, and funding agencies that can help them scale their solutions. If you would like more information, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're interested in how genetic tools can help address conservation challenges, join the WILDLABS eDNA community to share your ideas and learn more.