A program to protect slow lorises on Sumatra
The main purpose of the Kukang rescue program is to combat the illegal trade in wild animals and to protect the slow lorises Nycticebus coucang and the Nycticebus hilleri in the province of North Sumatra, Indonesia. A rescue and rehabilitation center for confiscated lorises was established in 2014 with the aim of returning them to the wild. The center also assists local authorities in enforcing animal protection laws.
Integral part of the protection of local endangered animal species is working with local communities on several levels. It is important to develop a positive attitude towards nature in local people. Thanks to the support of the Liberec Zoo, the Kukang program runs a school near the rescue center where local children learn english and environmental education for free three times a week in the afternoon. In addition, two environmental libraries have been built for children. In order to inform the general public about the problematics of illegal trade the program organizes campaigns and lectures at schools in both Indonesia and the Czech Republic. The internet campaign called “I Am Not Your Toy!” has been set up to promote public awareness about slow lorises as wild animals not suitable for being a pet. The campaigns’ main tool is a video, which is intended to discourage the general public from acquiring a slow loris as a pet and to show that the so-called “cute” videos with slow loris support their suffering and illegal trade. Video and other campaign materials can be found HERE.
The program also tries to help to solve the human – wildlife conflict, which is commonly present on the edges of forest where people farm. As a result of this work, a brochure that introduces farmers to the species of animals in their vicinity and shows them how to protect their crops against these animals without having to kill them was created. The brochure is available for download HERE.
Another project that dates back to 2018 and was officially launched in 2020, is “Kukang Coffee” – the story of coffee that protects nature. The project has created a community of farmers who grow coffee in an environmentally friendly way. The Kukang rescue program then buys coffee beans from them at a higher price than they would receive on the regular market. In return, farmers comply with and further enforce the ban on hunting protected animal species in the nearby rainforest, and thus become conservationists themselves. The Kukang Coffee project is now coordinated by former poachers, who were employed by the Kukang Rescue Program for this purpose and as a filed assistans. To support the project and educate the public about slow loris and other endangered animals of Sumatra, a special “conservation” café Kukang Coffee was established in the city of Ústí nad Labem. More about the Kukang Coffee can be found HERE.
These activities would not be possible without the support of zoos which played and still plays a key role in the establishment of the Kukang program in 2014. Next to the Liberec Zoo, it is mainly Ostrava Zoo, Olomouc Zoo and also Hodonín Zoo, Na Hrádečku Zoo, Polish Wroclaw Zoo (DODO Foundation), German NaturZoo Rheine and Dutch Ouwehands Zoo (Ouwehands Zoo Foundation)