Native Macaques Pushed to Brink of Extinction by Monkey Trade
Source : The Jakarta Globe, smira Lutfia | July 13, 2011
link : http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/native-macaques-pushed-to-brink-of-extinction-by-monkey-trade/452717
The international trade in the long-tailed macaque, a monkey indigenous to Southeast Asia, has reached alarming levels and is threatening the survival of the species in the wild, conservationists have warned.
In a statement released recently, the Species Survival Network, an international coalition of more than 80 nongovernmental organizations committed to the strict enforcement of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, said the cross-border trade in long-tailed macaques had rapidly expanded since 2004.
“The long-tailed macaque is the most heavily traded mammal currently listed on the CITES appendices and our research findings raise alarming questions concerning the long-term viability of targeted populations of the species if this trade is allowed to continued at current levels,” Ian Redmond, chairman of the SSN Primate Working Group, said in the statement.
The species is classified under Appendix II of CITES, which means that while it is “not necessarily now threatened with extinction, [it] may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.”
Long-tailed macaques have long been bred for use in medical research, and breeding centers have become large-scale enterprises, particularly in Southeast Asia. This has been marked by a significant increase in the number of long-tailed macaques exported globally, according to the SSN, from 119,373 animals during the period between 1999 and 2003 to 261,823 between 2004 and 2008.
The SSN called on government representatives with the CITES Animals Committee, meeting in Geneva this month, to carry out an urgent review of the impact of the international trade on the long-tailed macaque.
It also requested that the species be included in the committee’s Review of Significant Trade, with specific emphasis on the impact of international trade in countries where the macaque is endemic, including Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Pramudya Harzani, director of the animal welfare group Jakarta Animal Aid Network, agreed that the international and domestic trade of the animal was raising concerns about the survival of the species.
The monkeys are commonly exploited in traveling sideshows across the country, for which they are forced to undergo months of torturous training to be able to perform tricks. A large number also continue to be shipped off to laboratories for biomedical research, Pramudya said.
He added their open sale at animal markets in Indonesia was in direct violation of the legal protection granted to the species under the 1990 Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation Law and a 1999 government regulation on the use of macaques.
However, the Forestry Ministry contends that the species is not a protected one and that its export, with a strict system of quotas in place for each importing country, abides by CITES Appendix II provisions.
“And the export can only be done through registered primate exporting companies under the strict supervision of the regional Natural Resources Conservation Agency [BKSDA],” said Bambang Novianto, the ministry’s director of biodiversity.
“We set an annual quota of 5,000 wild-caught macaques in 2010 and 2011.”
He added the government had ruled that wild-caught primates were only to be captured for breeding purposes to replenish captive-bred offspring stocks bound for export.
But the BUAV, a London-based group that campaigns for an end to animal experiments, pointed out that the supposed captive-breeding programs in Indonesia still regularly required large numbers of wild-caught monkeys as breeding stock despite having been in operation for 17 years.
It would also be difficult for the government to ensure that monkeys exported for research were genuinely captive bred, particularly when thousands were allowed to be taken from the wild each year, the group said.
The BUAV said that although Indonesia had officially banned the export of wild-caught primates for research since 1994, an investigation conducted by the group between 2007 and 2009 showed that this ban was a “sham.”
The group said it believed that wild-caught long-tailed macaques from Indonesia continued to end up in the international research industry.
Pramudya said JAAN had urged the government to ensure that no international animal welfare rights and guidelines were being violated in the primate breeding centers.
“The government should respond and find sensible alternatives for the primates’ use in the long run without hurting the animals or exploiting them for unclear purposes,” he said.
“If the government fails to exercise caution or transparency in managing the primates’ habitat, it would be better to review the quota or put an end to the practice.”
He stressed that it was important for the government to take action against cruelty without waiting for the species to be listed as endangered.
“We call on people to stop buying wild-caught long-tail macaques because they are better off in their natural habitat, and to refrain from consuming products tested on the animals,” Pramudya said.