• Kyodo

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About 40 slow lorises recently smuggled into Japan were seized by customs officials earlier this month at Narita International Airport, customs sources said.

The seizure of the protected nocturnal primates marks the largest number of lorises to enter Japan at one time, the Customs and Tariff Bureau said. All of the animals were alive when seized but about a dozen died later, the sources said.

Trade in slow lorises is controlled under the 1972 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), also known as the Washington Treaty.

The animals were found in small boxes when a 38-year-old man arrived on a plane from Bangkok to claim them on May 2, the sources said. The man told a customs official he was asked to bring the animals to Japan by someone else.

Slow lorises live in the rain forests of Southeast Asia and sell for around 100,000 yen to 400,000 yen each in Japan.

Signatories to the Washington Treaty are expected to adopt tougher controls on trade in slow lorises during their meeting in the Netherlands starting June 3.

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