At the 27th meeting of the Animals Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) in Mexico, the Species Survival Network (SSN), an international coalition of over eighty non-governmental organisations is urging CITES to recognise that the trade in the long-tailed macaque in a number of countries in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia should be considered an issue of urgent concern.
The BUAV, which is a member organization of the SSN, has undertaken many investigations into the international trade in primates across Southeast Asia. Evidence gathered by our investigators in Indonesia, and submitted to CITES, has raised concerns regarding the lack of accurate population data for the long-tailed macaque, a lack of self-sustaining breeding colonies and the misuse of CITES source codes on export permits. In particular, the BUAV believes that Indonesia is breaching its own ‘ban’ on the export of wild-caught monkeys by classifying the hundreds of macaques trapped and exported from free-ranging islands within Indonesia as ‘captive born’ on CITES export permits, when they should be classed as wild-caught animals. Between 2006 and 2010, 21,683 long-tailed macaques were exported from Indonesia for research purposes.
Harrowing visuals obtained by BUAV investigators in recent years have shown monkeys torn from their jungle homes and families. The animals were trapped in netting, roughly handled and bundled into sacks before being forced into transit crates and forced to endure long hours transported by truck to a primate supply company. The monkeys were bewildered and can be seen on film frantically trying to escape their captivity; some injuring themselves in the process.
More recently, our field investigators have again gathered evidence of an unregulated domestic trade of long-tailed macaques at markets and roadside stalls in a number of locations including Lampung and Central Java. Disturbing footage shows hundreds of wild monkeys crammed in appalling overcrowded cages at markets and alongside busy roads. Some individuals were chained to posts and there were infants who were too young to be away from their mothers. Whilst domestic trade falls outside the remit of CITES, it is increasingly being recognised as a potential threat to the conservation of wild populations and its impact should be considered.