Chain Of Suffering
Uncovered: The shocking trade in monkeys that violates international animal welfare guidelines and breaches Indonesia’s own legislation.
Indonesia in breach of animal welfare rules
An investigation carried out by the BUAV has revealed a shocking trade in monkeys from Indonesia for the international research industry. The BUAV believes that the findings show that not only are international animal welfare guidelines being violated, but that Indonesia is also breaching its own legislation as well as failing to comply with CITES (The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) regulations. BUAV's investigation has further revealed the appalling fate that awaits many of these monkeys at their final destination - the research laboratory.
Indonesia is one of the most diverse countries in the world. It is covered by thick tropical rainforests, the most extensive rainforest cover in all of Asia, and is home to between 30-40 species of non-human primates, including orangutans, gibbons, macaques, leaf monkeys and tarsiers. Macaca fascicularis (long-tailed macaques; also known as crab-eating macaques and cynomolgus monkeys) and Macaca nemestrina (pig-tailed macaques) are both classified as Appendix II under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This means that these species, "although not necessarily now threatened with extinction may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival."
Threats to both primate species in Indonesia include habitat destruction through commercial timber removal or conversion of land for agricultural use and human settlement, hunting and persecution as a "pest." Therefore, any trade in these primates for research, the pet or food industry will further exacerbates these losses.
How Indonesia Is Failing To Comply With CITES Regulations
The BUAV investigation has found that Indonesia is failing to fulfill certain obligations under CITES, which as a member state, it is required to do. Although Indonesia "officially" banned the export of wild-caught primates for research in 1994 and claims to only allow captive-bred monkeys to be exported, the BUAV investigation has shown that this ban is a sham. Through a combination of a lack of enforcement by the Indonesian authorities and the misuse of the correct source code definitions for CITES export permits, the BUAV believes that wild-caught long-tailed macaques continue to end up in the international research industry.
Wild primates, for which an annual trapping quota is allocated to primate companies, are supposedly only captured and used for research purposes within Indonesia and to replenish breeding stock at those facilities that export captive-bred animals. In 2008, this quota was 5,100 for long-tailed macaques and 250 for pig-tailed macaques. However, due to the sheer number of wild-caught monkeys involved, combined with a lack of convincing enforcement on behalf of the Indonesian authorities, the BUAV argues that the Indonesian CITES authorities cannot be sure that these monkeys themselves do not end up in overseas laboratories
Of equal importance is the misuse of important CITES codes that define the source of primates exported for research and the subsequent misleading information written on CITES export permits. Some primate supply companies simply removed wild-caught monkeys from one location in Indonesia and placed them in another - on islands under conditions no different from their original homes. Consequently, wild primates who are living and breeding freely in a natural environment are designated as captive-born animals and exported for the international research industry.
The BUAV believes that the Indonesian authorities inappropriately define these monkeys as captive-born and not wild-caught in an apparent attempt to avoid the restrictions that would otherwise be placed on the trade by CITES. A number of the primate companies in Indonesia have connections with or have established so-called "breeding islands" from where they supply long-tailed macaques. The most well known of the islands is Tinjil Island, which is a tropical island off the coast of West Java. It was established in 1987 through the collaboration between a number of primate research facilities in the USA (Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC), the Bowman Gray School of Medicine, and the Oregon National Primate Research Center) and the Bogor Agricultural University (Institut Pertanian Bogor or IPB) in Indonesia. It is reported that between 1988 and 1994, 520 adult long-tailed macaques were released onto the island. In 2002, the population was estimated to be 2000 monkeys. Apparently by 2002, 1,150 offspring had been trapped and sent to be used in research, including 565 sent to the WaNPRC
Further evidence obtained by the BUAV raises major concerns regarding the misuse of trapping permits and the validity and objectivity of macaque population surveys. These surveys are used by the authorities as the basis for deciding whether and how many macaques can be taken from the wild
The BUAV also believes that the Indonesian CITES Management Authority is failing in its obligation under the Convention by granting export permits for primates who will undoubtedly suffer unnecessarily cruel treatment during transportation
Indonesia is, therefore, not only in breach of its own legislation, it is also failing to comply with CITES regulations by not providing scientifically valid data and export quotas for wild-caught animals of an Appendix II species.