2014-06-11 Wildlife Alliance Slow Loris
This slow loris was one of several species that the Wildlife Alliance found embalmed at a medicinal shop in the capital. © Wildlife Alliance

On a recent raid in Cambodia's Phnom Penh's Prampi Makara district, Wildlife Alliance's Rapid Rescue Team uncovered a true shop of horrors. Fourteen specimens of rare and endangered species, from slow lorises to hog deer, were found at a medical shop embalmed in jars of rice wine – the ghastly brew touted as a medicinal elixir.

While some of the species discovered in the raid had been killed before being placed in the jars, others were kept alive possibly in an effort to increase the potency of the alleged 'medicine'. According to a Wildlife Alliance officer, “Three slow lorises and a king cobra were forced alive into the medicine jars full of alcohol and died a slow, painful death by asphyxiation.” Also on the shelf were bottles of wine containing sun bear, hog deer and a type of wild cattle called serow.

Hog deer are listed as endangered on IUCN's Red List, while the sun bear, king cobra and slow loris are all listed as vulnerable, with population trends sliding downwards.

Traditional medicine poses a serious threat to local wildlife in Cambodia and may even be driving some species to the brink of extinction. According to a 2010 study, slow lorises are the most frequently requested wildlife products in Phnom Penh and demand for the species has led to a decline in populations. Products made from the rapidly disappearing animals are believed to aid a number of ailments, from helping women following childbirth, to aiding in healing stomach ailments, wounds, broken bones and even sexually transmitted diseases.

Header Image: istolethetv